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TIME SAVING GARDENING IDEAS

When I set out to design the gardens for our new home, I wanted them to be glorious. But I didn't want to spend my entire life maintaining them.

After much research and forward thinking I found a number of time saving concepts that I incorporated into the garden plan so that I could have as much time enjoying the gardens. Here are just a few of the ideas.

* Less lawn = less work. Foot by foot, grass lawns are one of the most time consuming pieces of your property.  I designed a small front lawn and back lawn to give playing room for the kids, a place to play croquet and to sit out a picnic blanket. I can mow all the grass by push mower in 45 minutes (which is still too long). Most homes have far more lawn than they ever need.

* Sure, you can substitute gardens for your lawn, but consider natural paths too. I am putting in a lot of gravel paths (landscape fabric underneath) which needs very little maintenance.

* To keep the gravel out of the flower beds, all the paths will be bordered with raised stones. This will also help keep what is growing in the beds out of the gravel.

* I am installing a foot wide stone "mowing strip" along all the edges of the lawn area. That will virtually eliminate the need to edge the lawn and will also keep the grass from creeping into the flower beds.

* All the above edgings around the paths and flower beds will give good visual structure to the garden so it will still be interesting to look at in the middle of winter

* All areas where dirt is exposed will be covered with a thick layer of mulch. That will not only improve the fertility of the soil as it decomposes, it locks in moisture for less frequent watering and keeps the weeds in check

* Irrigation systems are a must for a property of our size and because we do have dry parts of the year. Without the system I could be spending 10 hours a week simply watering everything during certain seasons. Combination sprinkler, drip and soaker systems will also cut down on the water bill. I am also planning ahead for future plant beds/zones.

* Most new houses have electricity and hose bibs around the house but I am having them installed 100 feet behind the house too.

* I really want to have a beautiful rose garden for my wife but I will be choosing antique roses or other ones that are a lot more disease resistant than the hybrid roses. Most people have to spray their roses every 7-10 days. Plus we will be gardening organically so harsh chemicals are out.