Attractive & Low Maintenance Landscapes
Updated: Oct 7, 2019
Attractive landscaping can add additional value of your home. Knowing how to design, layout and install low maintenance landscaping can save you precious time and money. In this article I will give you ideas, free tips and tool suggestions to assist you in installing edging, landscape cover and plants that will result in an attractive, low maintenance landscape that is likely to add much value to your home.
Did you know that proper lawn care and landscaping can differentiate your home from other homes of equal perceived value? Many sites estimate that proper and attractive landscaping can add 10 to 15 percent of additional value of your home. However, if not done properly, maintaining that lovely landscape can require too much time and money. You want to be able to enjoy your floral and plant beds, not become a slave to them. The answer, low maintenance landscaping! Read on to learn about the tools, tricks and tips for installing plastic edging to achieve attractive, low cost and time saving landscapes.
In preparation of your project you will require the following landscaping materials:
Having the necessary tools to prepare your landscape beds is essential to your success. To ensure that you are able to properly prepare your beds I recommend the following tools.
Long Handled Sod Plugger (Also called a bulb planter)
I also recommend the following tools for the cutting of plastic landscape edging and the trimming of barrier cloth.
Cardboard (as a surface to cut barrier cloth)
Layout the Design
The easiest way to layout a functional design with gradual and uniform curves is to use a fairly rigid garden hose to form the proposed lines of the edging. Laying a garden hose does two things for you; first it allows you to visualize your design before excavating your lawn, and second the hose can be used to mark and guide you in cutting perimeter line of your bed.
Another thing to consider when laying out your intended design is the size of the plants, bushes, etc. that you plan to use to fill the landscaped area. Obviously, the larger the plants or bushes, the larger the area needed to accommodate them.
Finally, you must consider the cost of covering the surface area of your bed. Be aware that the larger the design, the more costly it will be for the surface materials that you plan to use as a decorative cover. Once you are content with the design it is time to cut in the edging trench.
If you intend to incorporate curves into your landscape designs you need to make certain that the curves in your design are functional, subtle and uniform. To ensure that the curves in you layout are functional, consider the type of mower that you have and whether it will be capable of following the radius of your design. If the radiuses are too tight you will have a tough time following the curves as you attempt to mow against the edging. Personally, I make my radiuses fairly tight around landscaped shrubs and trees because I use a lawn tractor with four wheel steering which allows me to easily follow a fairly curvy design. If you do not have this type of mower you should consider making your curves more subtle.
Cutting in the Trench
Using the garden hose as a guide, carefully begin cutting in the edging trench. The depth of the trench should be about four to five inches, depending of the depth of your edging. The trench should be cut as perfectly vertical as possible on the outside edge. A good edging tool makes cutting the trench much easier and the tool will help you maintain the edging going forward. Once a horizontal outside edge is cut in, place an angled cut on the inside portion of the horizontal cut toward the bottom front edge and remove any sod within the bed. You are now ready to insert the edging.
Place the edging in the prepared trench and secure the edging against the outside edge using plastic edging stakes. You should drive on edging stakes using a good rubber mallet. They should be driven were two sections of edging are joined and approximately every four to five feet depending on the number of curves in you edging design.
If you need to join sections of edging you will want to cut the top and bottom portions of the leading edge of the plastic edging using a utility knife or tin snips. This is necessary so that the joining sections can be overlapped creating a solid weed barrier. Now secure together the two sections of edging with the provided connector pin. With the edging is place, it is now time to backfill the edging.
Backfill the Edging
Rake the some loose soil to create a sloping surface toward the outer perimeter of the prepared bed. Make sure you tightly pack the loose soil against the inside edge of the entire length of the installed edging. The packed soil helps the edging stay firmly in place. When the soil is firmly packed, you should have about two inches of space below the top of the inside surface of the edging.
Install Barrier Cloth
When buying barrier cloth, be certain that you purchase a thick and sturdy premium cloth rated for at least 25 years or greater. If you by purchase a thinner cloth it will be necessary to double up the layers to ensure proper protection from weeds.
Roll out the barrier cloth ensuring that you overlap each additional row about three to four inches. Also, ensure that you extend the cloth at least 4 inches beyond the farthest section of the outside plastic edging. This excess is important to ensure you have ample coverage. The cloth tends to pull away from the edging when you place the weight of the brick nuggets on the cloth surface.
Once the barrier cloth is in place, you will need to lay cardboard under any portion of the barrier cloth that extends outside the landscaped bed. We need to trim any excess cloth that extends far beyond the bed’s plastic edging perimeter. Using the utility knife, cut any excess barrier cloth using the cardboard as a cutting surface. You should cut the cloth about four inches out past the outside edge of the edging layout. Once the barrier cloth is trimmed, you are ready to cover the cloth with brick nuggets, stone or lava rocks.
Fill with Brick Nugget
Landscape Cover Medium
I incorporate brick nuggets into my landscaping. A rule of thumb, you want to lay about 2 to 3 inches of cover material on top of your barrier cloth. Be sure to check the coverage instructions on the bag of your selected landscaping cover material. I have found that you will always require about one third more material then that which you had initially planned. The moral of the story, don’t skimp on the brick nuggets.
Once I have adequately filled the area, I pack the nuggets firmly in the sloped area next to the edging. This provides additional lateral support to the edging. Packing gives the edging some structural integrity for the weight of the mower for when you edge your grass against the landscape perimeter.
As a finishing touch, I use my wide blade putty knife to neatly tuck the excess barrier cloth down between the nuggets and the inside of the edging. This helps discourage any weed growth into the bed and gives the edge a clean and tidy finish.
One key to ensuring your landscapes stay care and maintenance free is incorporating perennials plantings into your design. There are many strong, attractive perennials to choose from for your landscape, including: Forsythia, Asters, Texas Ranger, Chrysanthemums, Daffodils, Hostas, Hardy Hibiscus, Purple Coneflower, Peonies, Russian Sage, Siberian Iris and Hardy Lilies.
One of the more predominate perennials that I use in my designs is Hostas. Hostas are low maintenance, shade-tolerant and will thrive in almost every soil type. Additionally, hostas can be divided to expand the plantings in your landscape.
There is about a four-week window during September to October to divide and plant your hostas. You should allow at least three or four weeks for the hostas to become established before the soil freezes solid.
I use incorporate several varieties of hostas for color variation. I typically alternate these colors when placing the plants into the landscape design.
To discourage uncontrolled spreading of my hostas and other perennials I pot my perennials in containers. To incorporate my containers into my landscape design I follow these four easy steps:
Position the containers proportionally on your landscape ensuring that your plants are correctly proportionally spaced.
Brush away the brick nuggets from the area of the intended planting and use a utility knife to cut an “x” in your barrier cloth. Fold back the barrier cloth to expose the soil.
Use a long handled sod plugger to make a receiving hole that is large enough for the container. Prior to placing the container into the hole. remove the bottom of the container with a utility knife
Finally, place the planting into the landscape, backfill with soil, reposition the barrier cloth and brick nuggets around the new planting, and water the plant.
Low maintenance landscaping simplifies your life and gives you more time to do things you really love. Try some of these landscaping methods and plants for easy gardening. You are certain to increase the value of your home and you’ll have much more free time to spend with family and friends.
Whatever in on your list of your home project endeavors; I wish you safety and success!
Here are links to additional videos in this series:
- Landscaping with Brick Nuggets (Part 3) - Repairing Plastic Edging