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What's best for low maintenance?

Hey Folks,

Having only very recently got a property with a garden (long term London renters and finally got a house!), the world of gardening is all new to me.

I have a decent space to work with, approx 280 square metres, and most of this is the lawn. The garden is south facing, but the fence does provide some shaded areas..I'm working this out as I go.

The garden is somewhere that we will spend a lot of time - bbqs, family, warm summer evenings, so patio and lawn will just not cut it!

I plan to put in some sleeper boxes as I want to start growing veg, and it would be nice to get some extra foliage in there too. Flowering plants would of course be nice. 

We want to attract birds, bees, butterflies etc, but with a busy family life and full time work, I want a low maintenance approach. I was thinking to chuck in a load of wildflower seeds in the boxes to start with.

The fences between my neighbor and I are quite open, so I am also thinking to put up some kind of trellis for a bit of extra privacy - so presumably some sort of climbing plant would be nice. Perhaps peas?

Theres so much information around, but it's hard to know where to start!

- What are the easiest veg to grow?
- What plants and flowers largely look after themselves?
- Tips for simple to maintain plants that also flower would be great
- I am also open to trees!
- Pergola or similar is something we have in mind too

Appreciate the thread is super broad but I am hoping you experienced folks can steer me in the right direction.

Thanks!
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  • B3B3 Posts: 21,514
    The type of garden you have in mind will take work. In fact all gardens take work. For some, it's a pleasure. For others it's a chore.
    Shrubs and groundcover plants probably need the least maintenance but you will still need to prune and weed. Don't forget the joys of regular lawnmowing😒
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 18,485
    You need to consider whether you will be planting in sun or shade and and what type of soil you have too. 

    If you dig out a bed for flowers and the soil seems heavy and sticks together when you squeeze it then it's clay and adding compost will help.

    When I was a beginner (years ago) I bought books about gardening which helped a lot.
    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 14,121
    "I plan to put in some sleeper boxes as I want to start growing veg, and it would be nice to get some extra foliage in there too. Flowering plants would of course be nice. We want to attract birds, bees, butterflies etc, but with a busy family life and full time work, I want a low maintenance approach. "


    Welcome and congrats on your own new place. Growing veg and attracting the most wildlife and using your area for children's play and entertaining might be a bit of a different undertaking from running a "low maintenance" garden.

    It's probably best to spend a summer enjoying the space as is and finding which are the practical priorities for the space - privacy, wildlife, football / trampoline, veg growing, BBQs, low effort horticulture ... You might be able do many of these together, but it will be easier for your design to know which are most important and build around them. The easiest and lowest upkeep would probably to do nothing at all. That should tick several of the given boxes.

    Pots and containers are a way to start experimenting in a low key way to find out what you like. But are not exactly "low maintenance" as they will need regular watering. Wildlife seeds need watering.

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,349
    I think you're trying to run before you can walk  :)
    Start with the basics - if you want raised sleeper beds [I assume that's what you mean?] position those in the spaces where you want them. You'll need a suitable medium to fill them with too - mainly soil, not compost. If you want a pergola, do that at the same time. Hard landscaping always comes first so that you have the bare bones done, before any planting etc.
    What you plant in them will depend on the site they're in. Shady, sunny etc. Plenty of plants to suit both, but they'll need attention to ensure they thrive, regardless of how 'easy' they are.
    If the fences don't belong to you, you'll need to check with neighbours before attaching anything to them.
    If you want trees, it's the same principle. Decide where you'd like them to be, and then post some photos and you'll get ideas. Again- they need plenty of care after planting, until established.
    Veg depends on what you like eating. No point in growing stuff you don't like  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Chris-P-BaconChris-P-Bacon Posts: 700
    Post a photo, that may help with advice.
  • Simone_in_WiltshireSimone_in_Wiltshire WiltshirePosts: 169
    - What are the easiest veg to grow?

    Tomatoes

    - What plants and flowers largely look after themselves?

    Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Helanthium, and some grasses in between.
    Cut back Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Helanthium once a year in later winter (end of February, first days of March).

    - Tips for simple to maintain plants that also flower would be great

    Shrubs only need a cut either after flowering or twice a year.

    - I am also open to trees!

    Invest into bigger trees in Autumn, and add a bottle or two around them to keep them watered over the summer.
    Don't invest into little, cheaper trees as you will have to wait years to come until you can see them. A Birch is always nice and provides dappled shade.

    Being a German, after living in the UK for many years, my English is still far from being perfect, but I always do my best.
  • nick615nick615 SW IrelandPosts: 995
    Do you actually NEED raised beds?  Or do you just think they're the thing to do?
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 14,121
    @nick615 you always ask the same question.
  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 7,544
    As a fellow busy person I can really recommend learning how to potter. Ten minutes spent in the garden once a day saves an hour's work on weekends. I often walk around with my morning coffee and pull some weeds or do little jobs like that.
    A great library has something in it to offend everybody.
  • Chris-P-BaconChris-P-Bacon Posts: 700
    jttv99 said:


    - What are the easiest veg to grow?

    Courgettes, Peas, Radish, Lettuce, Spring onions, Kohl Rabi

    - What plants and flowers largely look after themselves?

    Choisya, Pittosporum, Hydrangea, Dwarf Conifers, Clumping Bamboo, Phormium, Heleniums, Phlox, Peony 

    - I am also open to trees!

    Birch (Betula utilis), Liquidamber, Tibetan cherry, Apple, Plum, Acer


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