Zen and the Art of Garden Maintenance

According to the famous book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, ‘The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you.’ And if you were to replace the word ‘machine’ and use ‘garden’ instead, the principal and truth of that quote remain intact.

Ultimately, if you put a lot of work into improving and maintaining your garden, you must be able to enjoy it. With this in mind, here are a few thoughts on how you can achieve Zen while looking after your garden, and how it can give you a relaxing, satisfying experience every time you need it to. Read on to find out more.

The basics

First of all, while we are talking about Zen for this article, we aren’t going to discuss creating a garden from that term’s country of origin: Japan. The truth is that Japanese gardens are incredibly lovely - and, therefore, ultimately satisfying - but they are also extremely difficult to achieve, due to the constant need for work and upkeep they need to stay in shape.

Unless you have the time, experience, and patience to create a Japanese garden, the likelihood is that its demands will be too great for the vast majority. Instead, we’re going to focus on the experience of Zen: in this case, an easy-to-maintain, enjoyable, and durable garden that is best suited to the busy lifestyles of the modern household.

Let it go

According to the well-known Zen peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh, ‘letting go gives us freedom.’ And it’s a simple line to remember when it comes to your garden maintenance and one that you should wholly embrace. If the conditions are such that you can’t garden at all - in winter, for example - then don’t.

Your best bet is to find perennial plants that require little upkeep and cause you no hassles whatsoever. Look at plants like lavender, sedum, Geraniums, and Dianthus to get your garden off to the best possible start. Not only will they flower beautifully in the spring and summer, but once they retract in the colder months, they are hardy enough to survive through the winter with no problem at all.

Perennials should make up the mainstay of your borders, and if you strike the right balance between spring and fall flowers, you should be able to have a dash of color all through your garden for the vast majority of the year.

Another way to ‘let it go’ is to leave an area of your garden to go wild. Not only will this be great for your soil, but it will also bring some interesting wildlife into your backyard, from beautiful and colorful insects to glorious birds. Bees love wild gardens, too, and given we are experiencing a serious issue with the wonderful, honey producing bees, every household with a big enough garden should really be doing all they can to encourage them.

Rock it

Japanese Zen gardens are also famous for the amazing displays of rocks, which are an essential element of the way they look and ‘feel.’ However, you don’t have to go down the purist route at all, and it’s up to you how you incorporate rocks and stones in your garden - any which way you choose.

Whether it’s attractive rocks you find while out walking, paving slabs dotted all over the place, or gravel from a gardening store that you use to create a crunchy pathway, there are plenty of options out there that require little maintenance and can have a fantastic visual impact on your garden.

One thing the Japanese rock garden does shine in for the super busy gardener is the minimalism. The less you have out there to tend, the more relaxed you will be about it. It is pointless spending lots of money on complicated and tricky floral arrangements and shrubbery designs if you don’t have the time to tend them.

Fake it

In days gone by it would be a gardener’s crime even to countenance the thought of installing artificial grass. Not only were the old artificial grasses terrible to look at and feel, but they were also incredibly bad for the environment, both in production and impact on your back garden. These days, however, you can get some exceptional artificial grass that looks superb when in place, and even allows rainwater to drain into the soil that lies beneath.

Of course, nothing can beat a real life, lush green lawn made from the real thing. But when you have a busy lifestyle and can’t afford a gardener, how much time do you think it will cost you to keep your grass looking in great shape? If you have a large garden, it will need cutting on a weekly basis, weeding every month or so, and constant care and attention that few people can manage over the course of a weekend.

So, if you want to achieve Zen in your garden and don’t have the time to spend sorting out lawn problems every couple of weeks, investigate artificial grass. As long as you are happy with the look and feel, and are careful with your choice of manufacturer, you can’t actually lose.

Section it

If you have a large garden, you will find it much easier to control if you create sections for it. You might have a space for meditation - to achieve real Zen, of course! - or maybe a place that you could just lie in and relax on a hammock. There are plenty of options available whether you want to hang it traditionally between two trees or place it on wall fixtures. Whether you browse WeDo Hammocks today, go to your local garden store tomorrow, or even make a DIY hammock, the choice is yours. Ultimately, a quiet little corner of the world with a hammock is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Sectioning your garden also gives you a chance to do things like growing your own vegetables. Don’t forget that different plant types thrive in different areas, with soil composition and sunlight affecting their growth. With a particular section for veggies and/or fruits, you will be able to cut down on the amount of time you need to spend tending them. Also, of course, you will have a smaller area to worry about when weeding and looking out for plant-damaging bugs and pests. Try installing a raised bed to make your life easier, as well. It will help you save your back from a  lot of hard work, effort, and pain, and it looks great, too.

Shaping tips

So, when it comes to shaping your garden, whether you are breaking it up into sections or not, it is essential that you keep things nice and cleanly shaped. Ultimately, the more curves and irregular shapes that exist in your lawn or garden, the longer you will spend tending to it. A rectangular or square shape can be mown in minutes, whereas tricky corners can take you a minimum of ten times longer.

Avoid creating little nooks and crannies, too. These areas of garden often end up piled high with debris, due to wind and nature taking it’s course Again, it’s going to take you a lot longer and more hard work to clean hard-to-reach areas than it will to tidy a simple corner.

Finally, don’t forget to include suitable borders to your garden. While fences might seem like a ‘fix it and leave it’ option, they can often fall into disrepair quite quickly. You might be much better off with choosing natural borders over fences - tall hedgerows and shrubs only need a prune and trim once in awhile, and are relatively easy to maintain.

A little, often

Once your garden is in the kind of shape you want it to be, you shouldn’t have too many problems keeping things looking great. If you can put aside just a half hour a week, you will be able to spot problems before they become serious, and do the quick housekeeping - or, should we say, ‘gardenkeeping’ - duties that are all you need to enjoy your backyard space all year around.

It’s worth investing in some good garden tools, too. Part of the joy of gardening is being able to control what is growing, and your ability to do so will be significantly improved by using the best tools possible. Look after the, too - keep them well away from the damp, either indoors or stored in a shed.

Every now and again your garden will need a proper watering, and with this, in mind, it’s worth buying a water but to collect rain in fall and winter, which you can use in the summer when it gets incredibly hot. It also means that if your state calls a hosepipe ban, your favorite plants will still manage to get the water they need to survive.

Finally, start using mulch and compost. It’s a lot easier to start than you might think, and a quick spread of either will do wonders for your garden with little effort a few times a year.

And there you have it - a garden that is perfect to relax in, and easy to maintain. Are you ready to achieve the ultimate in gardening Zen?

A Low Maintenance Garden Is Easier To Create Than You Think

Among the most common reasons why you might be thinking of a low maintenance, garden is because you want a complete redesign. No more filthy weeds that pop up out of nowhere, no more loose soil that gets kicked around the footpath, and no more dead or dying flowers laying limp on the floor with their petals scattered. Maintenance is one of the most hated jobs around the home because it comes by every season and presents new challenges. Mowing the lawn is also seen as a tedious task, especially if your lawn is big. Out of control gardens can look like a miniature jungle and passersby make judgments about the owner as to be untidy. You can cut the task down to size by taking a few steps to ensure the future trimming and cutting is kept to a minimum while the aesthetics remain pleasing.
Image credit -

That’s edgy

Landscapers often want a garden to be flowing, so it looks larger than it actually is. However, creating edges around the lawn, flowerbeds and footpaths can add appeal while preserving the character of the features. The edging is permanent because, in order for it to be sturdy and contain the growing botanical varieties, it must be strong enough to maintain shape throughout all seasons.

Installing grass

One of the persistent cases for a low maintenance garden is the required hard graft is takes to maintain a lawn, and it’s tidiness. Grass grows dependent on the nutrition it gets from the weather. If you live in an area where there a regular rainfalls, and hot spells of sunshine, this will effectively rapidly accelerate the growth of your lawn. The artificial lawn is permanent as the underlayer is excavated, filled and replaced. If you’re in need of an artificial grass installation guide, there are professionals ready to aid you that can help you plan, lay the foundation, neaten the edge and apply finishing touches for a high-quality package.

Potting your plants

Incorporating pots into the garden makes the yard nice to walk through because plants that aren’t potted, have a tendency to spread out sporadically. Larger plants’ leaves, stems and flower buds all tend to bully the smaller rivals, and thus the garden is littered with uneven sizes. Plants that are mobile tend to have unhealthy lives because the fight for water and sunlight prevents a variety of plants being able to reach adulthood. A potted plant has it’s only little patch, where you can water it evenly and the because of the created gap between neighboring rivals, has a chance to get adequate sunlight.  
Image source - stonescape

Stoning over

Stoning over a portion of your back garden would also limit the amount of maintenance because that area can be used as outside dining space. It’s also a great way to place a barbecue grill in the back garden that’s more stable that a lawn could ever be. A lot easier to clean via a high-pressure hose and stoning provides a welcomed contrast between nature and a man-made structure. This choice may even result in your home legally reaping the spoils of being extended, without really being extended. As stoning is different from a footpath, which means, it’s not an inherent part of the garden. This can add value to your property should you decide to sell.


Become the Ultimate Weed Terminator

Weeds, eh? While they’re not quite the bane of the average gardener’s life that many people make them out to be, they’re certainly pretty irritating and disruptive to your garden’s beauty. A lot of people rip up weeds when they see them, only to find a few more have taken their place just a week or so later.
So how does one actually make sure they stay dead? And can it be done without using the sort of harmful killer chemicals that can cause damage to the rest of you garden, and even to any wildlife that may swoop in? We’ve got a few tips for you. Hasta la vista, weeds.
Go artificial
This is probably one of the most extreme options, and it certainly may offend the sensibilities of some gardeners who want absolutely everything to be natural. But hands-down the best way to prevent weeds from disrupting the unity and look of your grass is to simply replace your grass with the artificial stuff! More and more gardeners every year are getting on-board with this stuff, especially because the cost of artificial grass has been decreasing with the rising demand. It can help you save a lot of time when it comes to both weed prevention and general lawn care - after all, you don’t have to cut what doesn’t grow! Of course, the soil beds surrounding your lawn can be replaced with artificial stuff, but let’s assume that’s taking it too far.
Minimize soil disturbance
The reason you get weeds in so many places in your garden? Well, if there’s soil, then there’s a risk of weeds; pretty much every inch of your garden contains weed seeds. Most of them are way too deep in the soil to actually germinate; they need to be in the top couple of inches to get enough light. With this in mind, you have to remember that disturbing your soil too much can cause those seeds to come closer to the surface. Ironically, one of the most common causes of soil disturbance is weed removal! Be careful when removing the weeds you have, because you may shift dormant weed seeds into a more fruitful position within the soil. Use a thin blade to slice through the roots instead of digging them up or yanking them.
Reduce gaps
Mind the gap! Weeds are more apt to grow in the gaps between the plants you actually do want in your garden. Of course, you’re going to be a bit limited here as to how much you can reduce the space between plants. Some will need quite a lot of space in order to grow to their full potential; if they get too close, they may also find themselves blocked from getting enough water and sunlight. But there are many gardeners who make these spaces much bigger than they need to be; especially when you consider the fact that so many simply scatter their seeds without much of a strategy! Remember that the recommended spacing between seeds is usually a little too large as they leave room for error; you can often get away with shaving 20% or so from the suggest space.

Gorgeous Gardens Needn't Take All Your Time

For many enthusiasts, gardening is about the method and the meticulous detail as much as it’s about the result. There’s a sense of reward to seeing your planning and participation in creating the space fit to your desires. But there are plenty of people who would like a lovely looking garden without having to put in so much effort. Perhaps they don’t have the time for it, perhaps they simply don’t like it. Everyone deserves a better garden and you can make it a lot easier to get one.

Let nature reign (a little)
Perhaps you want a bright patch of flowers without having to carefully consider how much water, sunlight, and space individual species need. You will need to get a little less particular about which flowers you prefer, but you can separate and create a wildflower meadow in your own garden which will need very little maintenance from you afterward. After all, these are the flowers that grow just fine without human intervention. The most you will need to do is make sure they’re not crossing the boundaries outside of where you want them to be.

Au natural isn’t everything
You don’t necessarily have to concern yourself with things growing out of control or getting overrun with weeds, either. If you want to completely take the effort out of maintaining a garden, there are plenty of authentic-looking and feeling lawns like Multiturf on offer nowadays. Synthetic turf allows you to add a touch of green where you might not be able to and ignore the problems that usually come with low-quality soil.

Keep off the grass
If landscaping to prepare the garden sounds like much more a chore than it sounds like a fun time, then you might want to let the grass keep to itself. You can move your flowers and other plants to individual spaces where they’re not going to require as much control, instead. Vertical gardening options, potted plants, using the windowsills and the like all allow you to get that touch of colour you want for the garden while making it easier to tend to your plants.

Let it take care of itself
If you really want to get lazy with it, then technology is going to be your best friend. There are loads of time-saving tools on the market nowadays that allow you to almost entirely automate your garden. Automated sprinkler systems are everywhere nowadays and they’re becoming cheaper, too. But now there are even automated lawnmowers like those from Husqvarna that will smartly calculate the differences between patches of ground and lengths of grass to give you an even cut without leaping unmanageable clippings. There are even automated drip irrigation systems that take the effort out of caring for individual plants.

There are a lot of shortcuts to achieving the garden you want. In most cases, however, you will always need to do a little upkeep of your own. Stay on top of your garden regardless of how low-effort you make it, or else you will be dealing with an overgrown mess.

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