Mom can't keep up with her lawn and garden

Affordable Low Maintenance Landscaping Ideas for Seniors

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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Affordable Low Maintenance Landscaping Ideas for Seniors

My 80-something year old mother is unable to care for her yard and flower garden the way she used to and she does not have the extra money in her limited budget to pay a lawn/landscaping company to do the type of maintenance her plants and flowers really need. We are wondering if anyone could give us some affordable low-maintenance landscaping ideas that would allow her to still have a beautiful yard (she has always taken great pride in this) without her having to do too much work herself or pay someone too much to help her with the upkeep. Thanks so much for any suggestions.

Take Advantage of Local Plants and Flowers

It's wise for everyone to plant landscapes that take advantage of local plants and flowers. These require the lowest maintenance and less watering. Paths made of natural materials such as gravel are inexpensive and easy to maintain. They allow rain to soak into the soil better and more quickly than hard surfaces. That also means less watering. Use perennials that are not invasive. This eliminates the cost and work of planting annuals every year as well as trying to control invasive species.

Seek Student Help

Check out nearby universities and see if some agricultural/farming/landscaping students might be willing to help out for course credit. Arrangements might have to be made via respective instructors and/or administrators.

Barter for Landscape Work

Not sure of all of the variables in your mother's health/physical situation, but could your mother perhaps barter for landscaping? If she sews, mends, cooks, bakes, etc., there are probably some people who would trade a couple of hours a week for a couple of home cooked meals, muffins, homemade bread, etc. Also, some churches have youth groups that give time to the community by helping older citizens. If she would be able to be outside (for the flower beds), she could make sure it's done how she likes and also teach someone about gardening.

Low Maintenance Watering Options

If one of the main problems is regular watering, there are a couple of solutions. For a single plant or small area, you can put pin holes in a soda bottle and bury it with just the top sticking out of the dirt. Just fill the bottle with the hose, and it will keep that area watered for days or weeks depending on the conditions. This also works well in containers. There are many other self-watering or minimal work watering options. Also a heavy layer of mulch combined with the black weed resistant fabric can really cut down on the need for weeding.

Native Plants Are the Answer

Native plants are a great way to keep a low-maintenance garden. Since native plants grow naturally in your region, they are perfect for your soil and climate, don't require much extra care, and won't become invasive to the local ecosystem. You may have a Master Gardener program in your county or one nearby. Google search "Master Gardener" and your state and county or neighboring counties, and you may find a website for a nearby chapter. Master Gardener programs exist to help people with sustainable landscaping, so I am sure they will be happy to help you find a list of native plants that will require little to no maintenance. They may have additional educational resources for where to best plant them, what time of year flowers bloom, etc.

Ground Cover Provides Minimal Maintenance

There are ground covers that require minimal maintenance, such as the low growing jasmine that covers my backyard. I don't know what the temperatures are where your mother lives but a local nursery should know about what would work in her yard. We trim the jasmine back off the paths about every three months. Certainly not bad for lawn care!

Get in Contact with a Master Gardener

Not knowing which area of the country your mother is in, my suggestion would be to contact the county agent who can test the soil for pH level. Also, look for a Master Gardener program in the area that could advise on the best plants for the growing season. If she's near a university or vocational school, the agricultural programs generally have a plant sale in the spring (very reasonable prices).

Seek Boy Scout Help

I cannot help you with planting ideas for the yard or garden, but my two older sons are Boy Scouts and they are always helping seniors with tasks. See if a local Boy Scout troop could offer assistance with gardening, mowing, and shoveling snow in the winter. The boys always need community service and they learn things in the process. My son was working on a gardening merit badge and helped a neighbor with her property at the same time. I hope your mother is able to enjoy her yard and garden in the seasons to come.

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Think Outside the Box

To keep a yard in a decent, manageable condition, your writer may have to think outside the box. I had a friend who sowed most of their large yard in wildflowers. They looked wonderful, and she did not have to weed nor cut the lawn.

Do Slowly and Piece by Piece

If there are grass areas that she cannot mow, get old, used shingles for free from a roofing company and cover over these areas and then cover with pine needles (can also be gathered free). Make pavers yourself from broken concrete you gather at construction sites and use these for winding paths. Now replant the rest with indigenous plants you can gather from the sides of the road in her area. Pay attention to variety and get tall, medium, and short plants. Do not worry about flowering plants. Add flowers by purchasing cheap flowering plants at Walmart and peppering them through the garden in pretty buckets you get at thrift stores and yard sales. Now add statues and fountains as you find them at thrift stores and garage sales. A bottle tree adds color. If there are trees, hang wind chimes. Get a good set of benches and table at a thrift or garage sale. You can make small areas for driftwood/shell scenes. Doing all this slowly and piece by piece is fun and cheap.
Van in AL

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