Less Is More

Low-maintenance gardens leave you time to enjoy them.
Sedum Garden
Sedum Garden. Photography courtesy English Gardens

WHILE GARDENING IS A HOBBY and passion for some, others don’t have enough hours in the day to maintain them. If that’s the case, Katey Romence, owner of Romence Gardens & Greenhouses in Grand Rapids (romencegardens.com) recommends using annuals to create a low-maintenance garden that requires less care.

Diamond Frost is one plant that can take the summer heat and fluctuations in watering. Dragon wing begonias, she said, are another low-maintenance variety — as are succulents that can hang in baskets.

Diamond Frost
Diamond Frost. Photography courtesy Proven Winners

“Many can either be brought inside for the winter or placed in the garage to go dormant until next year,” Romence said.

Vegetable and herb gardening doesn’t require a big commitment, explains Romence, who grows zucchini and herbs in the ground and puts tomatoes and cucumbers in pots.

With basic food, water and a large pot, gardeners can have an easy, season-long crop of tomatoes. Cucumbers can be grown on a large fan trellis placed in a 16-inch pot that lets them grow up and over, making them easy to pick and water. Herbs, such as thyme, can be added, along with nasturtiums for a burst of color.

“I really enjoy my small veggie garden, and with my work schedule, I am not able to put much time into it,” Romence says.


Darrell Youngquest, a shrub, tree and perennial buyer for English Gardens (englishgardens.com), with six locations in Metro Detroit, says a low-maintenance garden begins with soil, the plant’s home. A starter, such as Bio-tone, adds beneficial bacteria and can make plants require less watering.

“Many can either be brought inside for the winter or placed in the garage to go dormant until next year.”
— Katey Romence

A new plant is like a new child or pet, he says, that needs attention to get off to a good start. Still, some require very little intervention, such as sedum, which can thrive on neglect.

Lilac. Photography courtesy English Gardens

Low-maintenance perennials include allium that bloom from April to November or peonies that also require little care. False indigo is another less demanding perennial that is mostly blue and purple, but there are some yellows ones, as well.

Good annuals include wax begonias, a forgiving plant that grows in sun or shade. Trees and shrubs are other low-maintenance choices that work well in Michigan. Serviceberry trees grow in sun or shade and change color seasonally. Witch hazel is another option, and Michigan is a great place for lilacs.

“Pick the right plants for the type of landscape you have, whether it’s sun or shade, test the soil and don’t over fertilize,” Youngquest says. “You should only have to do the initial prep once. If you do it right, you don’t have to do it again.”

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