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Tips to Reduce Landscape Maintenance

As we age, lifetime gardeners may find it difficult to physically keep up with the demands of maintaining the home landscape. Here are some tips to reduce landscape maintenance, thus allowing you more time to relax, spend more time with the family, expand your landscape, or whichever goal you have in mind. The goals are to reduce:

  • watering
  • weeding
  • mowing
  • pruning

Hardscaping

Consider replacing high maintenance garden areas with hardscaping such as decks or patios. Hardscaped areas can be enhanced with colorful, seasonal above-ground containers to create welcoming open-air spaces that will allow you to relax outdoors.

Organic Mulch

Mulch your planting beds with a generous top dressing of organic mulch such as shredded/chipped bark or organic compost. Organic mulch will:

  • Reduce weed germination
  • Reduce watering by maintaining soil moisture & temperature
  • Add organic matter to soil as it breaks down

Tips for Lower Lawn Care Maintenance

  • Use high quality, site appropriate seed
    • Select a blend suited to your light conditions
    • Germination percentage above 75 percent
    • Weed content 0.5 percent or less and zero percent noxious weeds
    • Check expiration date
  • Seed at appropriate time
    • Southeastern Wisconsin lawns are ideally sown mid-August to mid-September
    • Spring seeding can be done when daytime air temperatures are above 60 degrees
  • Mow high: Cut only the top 1/3 of the grass blades, leaving grass height at 2 1/2″ to 3“ to encourage deeper, healthier roots and taller grass to help compete with weeds
  • Don’t bag grass clippings; leave them to add nutrients to the soil
  • Fertilize at the appropriate time with a slow-release fertilizer. Slow-release fertilizer will nourish your grass over a longer time and promote moderate growth that doesn’t require as much mowing. Fertilize in early spring (when air temperatures are 60 degrees or higher) and late fall. If you only want to fertilize 1x/year, make it the fall application.
  • Let lawn go dormant in times of drought. Wisconsin lawns can survive up to four weeks of dormancy
  • Reduce watering by 50% with Hydretain
    • Definitively proven to reduce water use by 50%
    • A single application lasts three months
    • Completely safe for wildlife, children & pets
    • Available as granules or liquid hose-end sprayer

Tips for Lower Care Shrub Borders

  • Select site appropriate plants
    • Hardy to our climatic zone (zone 5)
    • Adapted to your soils & moisture conditions
      • Consider native plants
      • Consider locally sourced plants
  • Know & understand mature size and space accordingly
    • This will save on laborious pruning and eventual removal/replacement of overgrown plants
  • Ask about susceptibility to disease, insects and deer
    • Breeding is being done to select for disease resistant varieties
    • Siting will play a role (well sited, healthy plant are less vulnerable to disease)
  • Select slow growing shrubs & ornamental plants
    • Be aware that slow growing shrubs & trees require less maintenance but are also more costly to purchase