9 Aug 2011

Tips and Tricks for the Laidback Gardener

Posted by bcsands

Looking for a beautiful garden with a minimum of effort? Here are some tips and tricks to help!

Mulch, mulch, mulch

Mulch is the laidback gardener’s best friend. It covers up weeds, deters weeds and gives your garden beds that professional landscaped look. What’s more, it gradually breaks down and enriches your soil – so you’re even fertilizing as well. Mulch really is the gift that keeps on giving!

Ground cover

If you don’t want weeds to cover your garden, then grow something else there instead! Weeds find it hard to get through the dense canopy provided by vigorous ground cover. Plant blue or white convolvulus or gazanias in sunny spots for beautiful cover, or look at native violets and Felicia daisies, or erigeron which will thrive almost anywhere! Some forms of grevillea make good ground cover and attract many native birds.


Growing native plants demonstrates that you are a keen supporter of Australian flora and fauna – congratulations. It also shows that you’ve realised that native plants suit our climate and are likely to need less attention than non-natives, but, sssh, you don’t have to tell anybody else that. Many natives do need some watering when they are first planted, but once they are established they will grow happily with little water and little attention. An annual trim after flowering will keep them looking good and prolong their life. (If you decide to fertilize natives, please use fertilizer designed for them – they need less phosphorus than non-native plants.)


‘Perennials’ is a magical word for the laidback gardener. ‘Perennials’ simply means that these are plants that flower every year, year after year after year… What could be better? Many are hardy and need little care – agapanthus will grow almost anywhere and hostas are happy in semi-shade. Second only to ‘perennial’ is ‘self seeding’ – these are plants that die away, but leave seeds in the ground to pop up again next year. Nasturtiums, alyssum, cosmos and zinnias can usually be relied on to make reappearances the following season.

Stepping stones

This might sound suspiciously like landscaping, but it’s landscaping lite. Weeds can’t grow under large flat stones – and what could be cuter than a set of stepping stones, winding their way through your beautifully mulched garden beds? You’ll look like a professional gardener and you don’t need to confess to anybody that it’s all a weed-killing strategy.


Don’t be afraid! Weedkillers such as Round Up and Zero are your friend. Just follow all the safety precautions on the containers and be a little careful about how and when you use them. They’re ideal for clearing weeds around paved areas and driveways, or for large areas where you have more weed than plant and might be better starting again from scratch.

This type of weedkiller works by killing the plants on touch, so they can also be used with great care around other areas, if you can keep them away from plants you want to keep. Avoid using them on a windy day! Or, instead of spraying, apply with a paint brush to the weeds you want to kill. Although that’s getting so laborious you might be better simply to…weed them out.

Coffee-break weeding

On fine mornings make your wake-up cup of coffee, grab an old cushion and take them outside for ten minutes. Kneel, or even sit, on your cushion next to a garden bed and pick away at the weeds while you drink your coffee. It’s not hardcore gardening and it’s a fantastic way to wake up – out in the fresh air with your coffee by your side. If you can manage this five or six days a week, you’ll have done an hour or so of weeding almost without noticing. It may even be all that you’ll need to do if you’ve followed the tips above!

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