As part of my year-end wrap for my radio program, I literally gave myself away as the grand prize. The winner got a garden consult with me in their space.
This thankfully worked out in my favour as a I got to tour the cottage garden of a lovely couple who purchased it as an eventual retirement home. Until then, this beautiful locale beside the water is going to be used as a rental spot. The owner’s big dilemma for the space is how to create beds that are low maintenance and in keeping with the natural look of the surrounding areas. As I drove away from their fantastic piece of heaven, I realized that more and more homeowners are going this same route — buying a second home that can be rented out on Air Bnb to cover the mortgage. Here are my simple solutions to creating mass plantings that still have some appeal.
Start with green, lots and lots of green. If you have fantastic foliage, then no one notices if there are no flowers. I like to create large swathes of lush green fronds under trees and in areas of medium to heavy shade. In this case, ferns are my go-to plants for keeping the natural feel of a property near water. Plant your ferns in a large clump around the roots of deciduous or evergreen trees. They will happily spread and multiply with very little effort. Just make sure to choose a variety based on the finished growing height. Ostrich ferns are as easy as they come and look great when filling a space.
Hostas are on everyone’s low maintenance list for a very good reason. Plant them and they will grow. Unfortunately, they are in every garden these days and some would argue that they have become overused. Instead of just planting clumps of hosta, what about paring them with a great ground cover that will happily grow with them? I recently saw a stunning garden with nothing more than English ivy and a few simple hostas in it. The combinations of the small leafed-ivy paired with the clumps of large leafed hosta are definitely an achievable solution for someone who doesn’t garden. If ivy is a problem in your area due to it’s aggressive nature, plant sweet woodruff instead for the same visual effect.
Big statement plants shouldn’t make anyone worried about the work involved with them, especially Solomon’s Seal. These beautiful arching plants can get up to four feet tall and while not known for their blooms, they will flower in early spring. I love this plant around foundations of homes, as it is the perfect size and height to cover the cement parging at the base of our houses. I also love this plant because of how little work is required to make it happy.
Rental properties shouldn’t mean a lot of extra work for the owners, especially when it comes to creating beautiful gardens for everyone to enjoy. Going green (in the plants of course) can be the easiest solution for creating a stunning statement with very little effort to maintain.
Carson Arthur is an international landscape designer and media personality with a focus on environmentally friendly design and low maintenance outdoor rooms.