We frequently get requests for a low maintenance garden. While we understand this request, we always explain that a garden by nature needs care and attention. Container plants are limited in their soil volume and need regular root pruning to alleviate root compression. Irrigation systems leach fertilizer, so you need to rebalance their nutrition constantly. Exposure to cold temperatures can lead to varying degrees of damage. The heat of summer requires regular watering either by hand or by an irrigation system - which also needs to be maintained throughout the year. Trees and shrubs need to be kept pruned for a number of reasons which may include: building guidelines for height restrictions, branches imposing on a neighbor’s yard or public space, to reduce toppling, or simply to maintain a healthy growth habit for flowering and fullness. Container plants may also need pest and disease treatments throughout the year and of course the endless cleaning of leaves and debris from terrace floors and drains. Essentially, New York City rooftops, terraces and backyards are artificial and hostile environments that need constant maintenance.
How can maintenance be minimized?
We recommend avoiding highly bred cultivars – choose plants that are closer to their original species. Although science has allowed us to breed larger and more colorful plants, the ‘low maintenance’ magic really happens when you use original species which are usually less susceptible to pests and disease. While you may argue that limits the options for your dream garden, you may want to simply sign up with us for a regular maintenance plan! Another way to limit garden maintenance is to use larger planters with more soil volume to allow optimal root growth and a stronger wood structure (however building weight limits need to be considered). The use of evergreens as opposed to deciduous plants and flowering annuals also helps to minimize maintenance but may be dependent on the amount of light your space receives. All-evergreen gardens can sometimes be monotone and bland. The most important issue to pay attention to is that some plants are more prone to insects and diseases than others, so plant selection will always be the biggest determinant of your garden’s maintenance requirements.
Call for a consultation with one of our Plant Specialists and let us determine what type of plants your garden space will support and how much maintenance you will need.