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How to Keep Your Garden Maintenance to a Minimum

Author: Vanessa Drew, Landscape Designer at Tobermore

It is a strange phenomenon that today, even though we have every conceivable labour saving gadget available, no one seems to have any spare time! Nearly every client I talk to asks for a low maintenance garden. A traditional cottage garden would have had herbaceous borders with plants requiring continuous dead heading, staking and tying.  Hardly anyone these days would have time for all that extra work.

It is therefore vital when choosing a hard landscaping material that you consider which type fits best with your environment and lifestyle.  Tobermore have a wide range of options available. A very popular choice for patios is Historic Flags as they are jointed with a pavement fixing mortar resulting in a low maintenance paved area. For driveways Shannon paving with its small bevelled edges and close fitting joints gives a smooth surface and minimises the amount of maintenance required. In reality any paving can be easily maintained if it is dealt with a ‘little and often’ approach.

Can you imagine what your kitchen floor would look like if you didn’t clean it for 5 years? Paving is exactly the same. Even though it is outside and gets regularly washed by the rain, natural dirt, debris and grime will land on it and this needs to be cleaned off to avoid build up. At my own house, I have Retro Heather which is one of the smallest paving bricks Tobermore offer.  It has an aged appearance and is jointed with kiln dried sand. It has been laid nearly 10 years, and I am happy to say that it looks as good as the day it was laid. I am not a slave to it by any means – I have no more spare time than anyone else!  So what is the secret?  Little and often! I spend about 30 minutes per year on maintenance.

Regular brushing of paved areas helps to prevent build-up of dirt and grime and also gives those upper arms a good work out! The best piece of cleaning equipment is an ordinary garden sprayer. These can be purchased at DIY or garden shops for around £10 for a 10 litre sprayer. Weed seeds can blow on to the surface of paving and may start to grow in the joints. This can be remedied very easily by spraying on a dry day with any Glyphosate weed killer such as Roundup, Gallup or Clinic Ace (all available from your local farm supplies shop). Avoid residual weed killers as these are very damaging to the environment.

After the winter, or in shady areas, you may find that green algae or moss may appear. We have a product called Anti-Moss Paving Cleaner. It does exactly that!  Simply spray it on and walk away. No need for brushing, and never scrape out the joints as this will create more opportunities for weeds to grow.  This product reacts with the air and dries up the moss and algae. It takes about a week before you will notice the difference, but patience will be rewarded! A particularly damp shady area may require more attention, but in general areas which get plenty of light, once a year should be sufficient for this treatment. For areas that haven’t been regularly maintained then a light power hose at medium pressure is generally all that is required to clean general dirt and grime. Do not use a high pressure power washer and they can damage the paved surface. Any jointing material that is removed should be replaced once the area is dry.

For easy maintenance, little and often is the key, and your beautiful paving will last a lifetime.

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