It can be heartbreaking if you never have enough time to thoroughly indulge your passion for gardening. Commuting to and from work might leave only an hour of daylight – or even less – to get any gardening done in the brighter months, and that isn’t really enough time to commit to really making your garden what it wants to be, and what you know it can be.
If you want to create an amazing garden but feel like you’re never able to get in the garden long enough, follow these top tips to help you maximise that limited time and create a garden you can really be proud of.
To maximise the limited time you have in your garden, it’s best not to get overwhelmed. Throwing yourself into the minutiae of the finer details of your garden. Take a look at the bigger picture first, see what you have to work with. Figure out how the sun moves across your garden so you know what will see light and when, and make a note of what is already there, the framework of your garden, to see what you might want to keep and what might need the most work. You can work around a lot of the bigger features of your garden without spending the time digging up and getting rid of huge bushes or unruly hedges. That can all come later if you want, but making strides in the meantime elsewhere will make a huge difference.
The larger features of your garden could help hold it together, providing a solid foundation for smaller sections that might need more attention. Trees, pathing and hedges are cornerstones of your garden that don’t need as much constant maintenance. Hedges only need trimming once or twice a year, so they fit perfectly into the schedule of a gardener with no time to garden. The more space taken up by features that don’t demand all of your attention the better. It might feel like cheating, but it’s not – cheating would be resorting to concreting the entire thing and leaving it at that. All these features work together to set the tone of your garden, and will remain largely the same over long periods of time, so you don’t need to constantly nip and tuck to get keep things right.
Keep things low maintenance
There’s no point bemoaning the fact that you don’t have enough time to garden then filling your garden with time sucking, hard to maintain plants that need constant fuss. Working with what you’ve got is the main thing to keep in mind, so choose low maintenance plants to help save time once they’re established. Ideal low maintenance plants include: shrubs, conifers and grasses.
Shrubs: Slow growing shrubs and evergreens will add size, shape and stature to your garden. They will also bring a variety of colourful flowers and foliage, as well as remaining attractive and interesting throughout the year.
Conifers: Another year-round mainstay, conifers can be tall or dwarf, and can create a strong centrepiece for your garden, or make for an attractive border addition. Conifers will look after themselves, so planting one is about all the work you need to do. They pay dividends for the gardener who needs to save time.
Grasses: Grasses go well with both shrubs and conifers and need only a trim every now and then. You only need to plant bulbs once to see grass sprout year upon year, so they fit perfectly in the low maintenance style of garden which suits a limited schedule.
Keeping things watered might not be easy to keep up with, and if the weather is being stubborn and not offering any downpours you could easily find things dying off quickly. Having an automated watering system will help alleviate the effort, working when you’re not around. Sprinkler systems or porous pipes attached to an outdoor tap with timer are perfect. Don’t forget to use bark on beds to stop the water from evaporating.
When you do have the time, it might pay to dedicate long stretches to your garden. Spend a weekend or two going through the garden, planting, clipping, pruning, cleaning to keep things looking healthy and sharp. And when you’re not in the garden, keep planning for the long term. You can be constantly at work in the garden in your mind, and having a sound idea of what you might want to do in the future will mean more valuable time spent actually gardening.