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Landscape Design Trends: Low Maintenance Planting

Low Maintenance Planting Prairie Gardening Iowa Native Planting Native Plants

2018’s landscaping trends are all about lifestyle and enjoying more time outside with friends and family. When we finally do get some extra time to spend outside, most of us don’t want to spend it maintaining picky plants, laboring away at watering and weeding. The Low-Maintenance Planting trend is all about freeing up more time to actually enjoy our backyard lifestyle.

“Native plants give us a sense of where we are in that great land of ours. I want to look at Texas like Texas and Vermont like Vermont.” 
– Lady Bird Johnson

Let Go of the Lawn:

Where does most of your yard maintenance time go? Chances are you’ve spent too many hours mowing, watering, and fertilizing to keep a beautiful lawn. At some points in our lives, we might need a lawn. Young kids can certainly demand a very different use of your backyard space. Once you can, though, exchange maintenance work for time to relax in your yard.  Ditch the lawn and opt for a low maintenance landscape filled with beds of native plants.

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Using Native Plants:

Native plants are a gardener’s dream. They’ve evolved perfectly for standard rainfalls, so in an average season, you might not need to water your plants at all. They have also had the chance to develop natural resistance against local pests and diseases, as well as being the most attractive to local pollinators. Native plants require less pesticides, less fertilizer, and less watering than tropicals or hybrid perennials. They drastically decrease the labor needed to maintain your backyard, stay healthy, and bring an assortment of helpful and beautiful pollinators to boost the health and appeal of the rest of your yard. 

Natural Wood Mulch:

Wood mulch is also an important part of a low maintenance garden. It is easy to install, aesthetically pleasing, cost effective, and brings all of these benefits with it:

Watering Help: Mulch will help to prevent soil evaporation, keeping water at the roots of your plants. Not only does this dramatically cut the excess time put into watering your plants, it also keeps them healthier between waterings.

Weed Cotrol: Mulch will smother weeds, only allowing the plants you want to grow to flourish. With less work, your plants will look better and cleaner than ever.

Biodiversity: Usually overlooked, healthy yards have a host of resident predators that keep pests under control. Mulch will give ladybugs, ground beetles, and other tiny mercenaries, ideal spots to hide so they can keep your plants healthy for you.

We recommend using a natural, double shredded, undyed mulch, such as Cedar or Hardwood. Dyed mulch is usually very “chippy” and does not stay in place well or provide much water buffering. You can find both hardwood and cedar mulch at Ted Lare Garden Center for your projects at home.

Design Ideas:

The most popular application of native planting here in Iowa are prairie installations.  As you drive down the interstate or highway, you will find many prairie restorations that limit the amount of maintenance for the Iowa DOT. This same prairie restoration is perfect for larger home properties, as it only needs mowing a few times annually and provides color and texture throughout the year.

On a smaller scale, native prairie flowers and grasses can still be used for an awesome display of color, all while keeping maintenance low.  By planting these native grasses and perennial flowers in groups of 3-7 plants, you can create high-contrast plantings with dramatic effects. The texture of native grass also provides a cool effect in the winter landscape, providing texture and form for tufts of snow to land.

Both wild and elegant, they’re designed to take care of themselves. Using some native and low-maintenance plants, grow your own little natural ecosystem and actually enjoy sitting back and relaxing outdoors in the rugged, natural beauty of your own home. For a list of native prairie plants that grow in your Iowa County, check out this inclusive list of prairie plants from the University of Iowa. We also offer a nice selection of prairie grasses and prairie flowers at Ted Lare Garden Center. Come visit us for ideas and inspiration for your garden.


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