Low-maintenance gardening for busy bees 

Bringing a touch of life and personality to your garden doesn’t have to take up a lot of time and effort, and has the added bonus of boosting wellbeing and supporting our city’s wildlife.  

In recent years, more and more of us have been paving over our gardens or replacing them with plastic grass called astroturf) which is a major cause of microplastic pollution and damages natural habitats.

Natural grass is great at soaking up heat and water, which helps reduce flash flooding and cools our city, so keeping the green stuff around is key for a happy, healthy city.  

So if you’re a busy bee but want to keep your green patch green, here’s some top tips to get you started!  

 Start small 

Although getting growing is super exciting, avoid the temptation of buying up all the beautiful plants you can get your hands on from the local garden centre. Your plants are your babies and they need taking care of. Test the waters by starting off with a few plants, then see how you grow!  

Adapt to your space 

Whatever your space you can create a beautiful low-maintenance garden. If you’ve got a luscious lawn you could let it grow, sprinkle some wildflowers, and watch the bees and butterflies enjoy. If you prefer to keep it trimmed, a few potted plants dotted around might be the way to go. For those with smaller spots, a couple of hanging baskets, a living wall or a plant ladder would give your patch a refreshing touch of green.  

 

Choose your plants wisely 

Not all plants are created equal, some need less looking after than others. Lavender, thyme, oregano and geraniums are hardy plants that require little watering. Buy as young plants or seeds from a garden centre and plant in big pots to give them lots of room to grow (and give you longer before they need re-potting!). If you’re feeling fruity this summer, instead of choosing fruit trees that require lots of pruning, think about planting bushes that bear fruits.  

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Share your garden with wildlife 

If you’d rather not take care of lots of plants but want to keep support London’s wildlife friendly, choose a handful of pollinating plants and add a homemade bird feeder and bug hotel to your garden. 

Sit back and enjoy seeing butterflies and birds enjoy your garden.

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Care for your soil 

Soil refers to the upper layer of earth that plants grow in, a black or dark brown material typically made up of a mix of organic remains, clay, and rock particles. Getting to know your soil will also help you pick plants that have the best chance at surviving. This guide from the RHS is a good place to start for getting to know and improving your soil.

Spending time improving your soil is an investment that will pay off in the short and long run.

Often confused with compost, which is an organic material used to grow indoors plants or added to soil to act as a fertilizer. Use compost labelled 'peat-free' as peat compost destroys natural peat wildlife habitats Read more about the benefits of going peat-free here.

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Water right  

Plants depend on water to survive, but too much water can be just as bad as too little.

There is no size fits all when it comes to watering but a good rule of thumb is to avoid the temptation to water every day - even when it’s dry, once or twice a week is plenty. Keep a close eye on your plants and adapt your watering depending on whether they look parched or drowning. Focus your watering on the vegetable patch, newly planted plants, and those in pots, containers, and hanging baskets - plants in garden beds will do well on their own.

Fancy spending less time watering? Plants labelled as “drought-tolerant” need less water than others. Lavender, poppies and bougainvillea are popular examples that will do well with little water.

Perhaps the most important advice: don’t let a brown lawn alarm you – grass will magically bounce back after a bit of rain, so no need to even turn on the sprinklers! 

Click here for more clever watering tips. 

 
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