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How do I make very large gardens more managable?

I have huge gardens outside my house and it takes forever to keep on top of them in the summer. I'm not lazy and like to keep busy but I have half an acre of garden and the previous owner here obviously liked to grow things because half of it is dug up and the other half is grass. I want to have it looking good but not take me all day to do. As an extra nuisance I have hedge all the way around the boundary so that gives you an idea of how much I have to keep on top of. Thanks for your help.

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  1. Right - put in gravelled areas - paved areas - and get a once monthly gardener!! They only charge around 12 per hour - so get him pruring and tidying. You can do the mowing easily!
  2. employ a helper. unless you concrete it all, no matter what you plant, it will still need looking after. flowers will loose petals, want dead heading, vegetales will need planting, feeding, picking, grass needs cutting, how about a large pond?
  3. I have a half acre too, your best choice is to have. 1.- Native plants (less maintenance), 2.-Slow growing edges like Jazmin (not ficus) 3.- Do not let plants, weeds, grass grows out of hands. 4.-Do a portion of the patio at the time (but completely) . 5.-Use sprinkler system with a side tank where you can put the fertilizer or any weed control. 6.- Do not over water, once a week should be enough if does not rain.
  4. I have a third of an acre and it does require a bit if commitment to keep it manageable. The hedges need trimming twice a year, once in the Spring/Early SUMMER and again in the Autumn. Then it is quick and easy and not the mammoth task it can be. My borders are all full of bushes and plants that add colour and variety year in and year out. They just need cutting back a bit now and then. I never use annual pretty flowers as the cost is huge and they are labour intensive. I am also using a lot of large grasses to fill out the gaps as well now. Lastly all my borders are covered with a mulch which is a good thick layer of bark chipping. Providing you put these on and keep adding on a rotation over the year and make it weed free before hand it keeps the weeds well in control .
  5. James ,, turf over or reseed your garden to 3/4 lawn and 1/4 brown earth. The hedge is a once a year job. Get yourself a ride on mower for efficiency and speed. You could also get a cultivator for the brown earth. Alternatively, grass the lot, and have fun on your ride on mower.
  6. Lower your standards. I'm not trying to be difficult, but a garden doesn't have to be all perfect lawns and flawless borders, you know. Plant some trees, scatter some wildflower seeds. Let the wildlife flourish. Build a big pond. Try some fruit trees. Change some of your plants to lower-maintenance ones; pick shrubs and perennials that more or less look after themselves. If you don't like the hedge, get rid of it, or pick something lower maintenance. Build a deck or patio to take up some of the space. Put in a pool!
  7. i would suggest large gravel areas combined with lots of cottage garden perenniel plants which will increase in size over time,keeping the weeds away and wouldn't take much looking after, they generally look after themselves and would keep your garden looking colourful in all seasons, there are plenty of perenniels to give colour all year round, also in between these you could plant spring bulbs which you would only have to do once, they would then increase yearly and look after themselves. if you plant daffodil and tulip bulbs, by the time the flowers go over, the perenniels will be growing and would soon hide the daffodil and tulip leaves.
  8. Landscape a large sweep of the area to trees, and plant native flowering /berrying ones such as cherries or crab apples, or birch, which will need little if any pruning and provide height and interest to the landscape and food and shelter for the wildlife. Let the area below the trees go to grass, and plant bulbs, fritilillaries, anemones, and other early-flowering things which will flourish in the light conditions before the summer shade takes over. Get a good ride-on mower, or pay someone to cut the grass regularly in summer, leaving you time to enjoy more interesting gardening tasks. If you like, make a paved area near to the house where you can sit and enjoy the view. Plant round this with large clumps of perennials such as lavender, curry plant, hebes, heathers, thymes etc, which will be good ground cover, flower reliably and provide nectar for bees and insects. Avoid annuals if you don't want the work, or go for ones which will self-seed such as cosmos, marigolds etc. Put in a pond, if you don't have one already. If you have, make it bigger! Get your hedges pruned in WINTER (assuming they are deciduous hedges, not conifers) - the advice about pruning twice a year, including in Spring/Summer, is WRONG becaue the birds will be nesting after the middle of February and it's actually illegal to prune hedges in the UK between Feb and Sept. They only need doing once a year, and you can buy a reliable garden shredder (get a Bosch) to process the chippings and make mulch for the garden. If you have conifer hedges, do them in late August, after the birds have nested and when there's no fear of frost. You could employ someone to cut the hedges and do other pruning occasionally if it's too much to manage. Do some research online or in the public library about other ideas for low-maintenance gardens. But remember, no garden is maintenance-free unless it's all concrete, that's the joy of it!
  9. James, After you decide on the size you want your garden to be and the type of plants that will work best for you. Save yourself time and conserve water, look into drip irrigation and water timers. There is some information on the advantages of this type of watering for your new garden project. check out this web sites http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/