Defeating the weeds:
The most tiresome and worrying aspect of gardening, specially during retirement, is weed control.
In order to keep weeds away, the best kind of control is manual removal, by uprooting undesirable plants.
The application of chemicals can help those not willing to be on hands and knees pulling weeds, however, weeds are becoming more resistant to treatments and residue can affect the ecosystem and wild life in your garden.
Ground Cover is the key:
To suppress weeds, keep moisture on soil and give weeds less chance to thrive, groundcover plants are the best option to fill spaces between cultivated plants, in order to avoid the soil to be bare.
Ideally, the chosen ground cover will be an evergreen and reach a dense cover and dominance on soil in the first season, hardly requiring any weeding.
Ground cover plants for fast growth:
This plants can provide quick cover in one season, hardly needing weeding:
- Ivy – Hedera
- Periwinkle – Vinca minor
Slower Growing Ground cover plants:
This plants will take 2 or 3 seasons to cover the ground, and may benefit from some pruning before stablished:
- Gold dust – Alyssum saxatile
- Euonymus fortunei
A good alternative to living ground cover is to mulch with organic matter such as bark and woodland mulches.
Although the spreading process can be arduous, a layer of 2 to 3 inches or mulch can suppress the light for weed growth for a few seasons, but will ultimately decompose, needing periodical top ups.
Covering the ground with a weed suppressing membrane will give even better results and last longer.
Shrubs and Trees
Essential to bring some dept and contrast to a garden, shrubs and trees form the framework of the retired gardener design.
With clever choices, interest can be added through the seasons with flowers, fruits or foliage, still keeping maintenance to a minimum.
Hedges for Retirement Gardeners
The common yew is a popular choice, once it requires only 1 trimming per year, although is very slow growing.
Hornbeans also only annual trimmings, unlike a privet hedge for example, that provides quicker screening but requires up to 4 times a year.
Cypress has a good coverage and is faster growing than other coniferous and still require only 1 pruning / year, which can be done with secateurs.