The groundhog didn’t see his shadow this year, so that means spring is practically around the corner. That being the case, it’s time to start planning your planting. The right landscaping can transform your gazebo from a simple shade structure into a delightful backyard getaway. Of course, “the right landscaping” doesn’t just refer to style and color—the right landscaping is also easy to maintain, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy the oasis you’ve created.
Low-maintenance landscaping can be yours via a number of strategies.
Nothing says spring like a gazebo skirted with lush, colorful flowers, ferns, and flowering shrubs. Raised beds tend to make the biggest impression, but they’re tough to enjoy fully if you’re constantly pulling weeds. Keep maintenance at a minimum by lining the bed with a fabric barrier anchored by lawn staples. Layering pea gravel, lava rock, or mulch over the fabric not only hides the barrier, but also adds to the beauty and picking the right plants as well can help cut down on the need to water as often even more.
Speaking of water, installing a drip system may be well worth your while, especially if you’ve hand-watered your plants in the past. You can install one of these low-pressure, low-volume systems yourself, using one of the many kits available on the market, or you can hire a professional to give you a customized installation. What better way to water all your plants at once?
You can’t beat stone for low maintenance. Surround your gazebo with a pea-gravel rock garden installed atop weed barrier. Add interest and an Asian touch with a few strategically placed boulders and a couple of well-mulched lipstick palms. Option two would be to create a southwestern rock garden, surrounding wild grasses and other plants that require very little water with bigger stones (again, don’t forget the weed barrier!) and accenting with boulders and other natural materials.
If you set your gazebo on a well-mown lawn, back against a tree line, Mother Nature more or less does the landscaping for you. But since mowing around structures can be both aggravating and time consuming, you can save time and effort with a border of brick or pavers. Dig out a design—it doesn’t have to be symmetrical—lay down weed barrier and sand before adding bricks or pavers, and you’ve got a maintenance-free gazebo surround.
If your gazebo sits atop a small patio, you might consider landscaping with potted plants of various sizes, thus eliminating the need to weed. Of course, potted plants do need watering, but self-watering planters and probes and automatic container-watering systems can do most of the work for you. It also make tending to them a lot easier and replacing won’t require a lot of time on your hands and knees.
If you prefer simple, a no-mow lawn might be the answer, not just for landscaping your gazebo, but your entire backyard. No-mow seed mixes (like dichondra, micro-clovers, or a combination of fine fescue grass) not only give you the lush green lawn you want, they’re maintenance-free, ecologically smart choices that require little or no water.
Add a pond
Sinking a pond next to your gazebo will both cut down on the landscaping maintenance demanded by gardens, it will exponentially increase the quality of time spent under the pergola. While ponds do require minimal maintenance, adding an external filter—plus a few koi, crayfish, and fresh-water clams to nibble algae and consume plant matter—can cut your to-do list down to two or three hours per year. This is a project that might take more initial investment to make it truly low maintenance, but as with any of the suggestions, a little planning at the beginning can save a ton of work all year long.