A relatively small garden of 20m x 20m consisting almost exclusively of indigenous trees, shrubs, groundcovers and no lawn could cost you just under R4 000 to maintain annually.
Glenice Ebedes from Grounded Landscaping says assuming this garden had lawn, perhaps 50% to 75% coverage, as is often the case, homeowners would require a gardener or garden maintenance service to come and mow it once a week.
She says you’d have to pay a gardener or maintenance service around R150 to R250 per week, totalling R7 800 to R13 000 per annum.
If you have a gardener or are maintaining the garden yourself, you’d also have to pay for the following…
- Petrol or electricity expenses for the lawnmower.
- Maintenance of the lawnmower.
- Weekly or monthly trips to a municipal dump to dispose of the garden refuse.
- Watering of the garden, either manually or with an irrigation system, perhaps twice a week, thereby impacting the water bill.
- If you have incorporated exotic trees, shrubs, hedges, standards (lollipops) or roses into your garden, you will have to pay for maintenance time or pest control.
- In addition to this, you might have to incur additional costs for trips to DIY stores to buy tools, irrigation supplies, fertilisers, pesticides, etc.
All things considered, if we assume the “weekly pay” as the primary cost of a garden and calculate some modest additional expenses at somewhere between R2 000 to R5 000 for the year, homeowners might have to spend in the region of R9 800 to R18 000 on the maintenance of a small garden.
However, an indigenous, lawn-free solution could cost R4 000 to maintain annually.
Glenice says if you truly want a low-maintenance garden, consider whether or not you need so much lawn.
Many homeowners want low maintenance gardens, but at the same time, they want big lawns without realising that the grass will be the overburdening cost in the coming years. She says rarely, if ever, are the terms ‘lawn’ and ‘low maintenance’ compatible.
How to create a low-maintenance garden
1. Firstly, decide if you really need a lawn. Many parents want their kids to have lawn to play on, and that is understandable. But lawn-free gardens can be just as enjoyable for kids and just as beautiful, with secret play areas and hidden pathways made from bark chips and groundcovers.
Insects and birds are attracted to such gardens, and children can interact with and learn about the natural environment too.
If you have a safe park nearby, consider allowing your children to play on those lawns before coming home to a sensory and appealing wildlife-friendly garden.
2. Use indigenous plants. These are adapted to the climate, and are often more tolerant of pests, thereby saving you on pest control costs.
Birds will also recognise these plant species, and will visit your garden to enjoy the seeds, fruits and berries during the fruiting season.
3. Do not use irrigation if you don’t have to. Rather choose plants that are drought-hardy, therefore needing little watering.
Alternatively, you could install a rainwater harvesting system in your home, using a booster pump to irrigate your garden only when necessary.
Keep in mind though that no irrigation system will ever be as good as a long, soaking downpour of rain.
4. Consider using trees that are slower growing. Shrubs and trees that are fast growing can sometimes become messy or shabby, and may require more pruning and maintenance to keep them neat.
Using slower growing trees can reduce the time and costs that may be incurred to keep them in check.
5. Avoid hedges and standards (lollipops), which require constant maintenance to keep them in shape.
6. Avoid using water features or pots. Water features require constant care to ensure the pump filter stays clear and the water level remains high.
Potted plants also require additional care, as the soil is contained and may dry out faster than soil in your garden.
7. And finally, once your garden is in place, do not turn the soil or rake up the leaves. Leaves serve as a natural mulch in your garden, and help to enrich your soil.
Think of an indigenous forest, with all that organic material on the forest floor. That is the type of environment you should try to replicate in your own garden.
Article from property24