Take back your free time: 4 expert tips for reducing lawn maintenance

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(BPT) - If you love your outdoor space — but aren't crazy about weeding, watering and mulching — you'll be glad to know there are simple ways to minimize maintenance of your yard and garden. With a bit of planning and some up-front investment, you can cut down on the time you spend working in your yard, so you have more time to just relax and enjoy it.

Here are tried-and-true tips for creating an outdoor space that won't use up all your leisure time.

1. Reduce your lawn

To cut down on the weekly attention a typical lawn demands, consider cutting down on the square footage of grass. By adding more hardscaping — a larger patio, decking, a gazebo or other structure — you may also expand the ways you can enjoy your outdoor space beyond just watching the grass grow.

Another alternative to grass many choose today is artificial turf, especially in areas experiencing water shortages.

2. Plant — or replant — more thoughtfully

What you grow in your yard makes a huge difference in terms of maintenance. To reduce your workload, try to:

  • Choose perennials that are low-maintenance and don't require replanting
  • Opt for native plants suitable for your region
  • Select hardy plants that thrive on benign neglect
  • Plant in the best spot for optimal growth

For help choosing the most maintenance-free plantings for your yard, start by doing an online search for native plants in your state, along with looking up the USDA hardiness zone where you live. Nursery or garden store professionals can also offer their expertise, as can your local agricultural extension office.

Rethinking your choices of flowers, plants and shrubs can turn a yard that needs constant tending into one requiring minimal effort.

3. Use landscaping stone to beautify your yard and garden

Another great option for simplifying yardwork is using landscaping stone instead of standard mulch. While requiring a bit more investment up front, options like Pavestone Pea, Pond or River Pebbles are much more cost effective over time, because stones are much longer lasting, making them ideal for gardens, pathways, ponds and many other applications around your yard.

Landscaping stone is a very low-maintenance, highly sustainable and attractive alternative, as most traditional types of mulch only last three months to a year. Mulch may blow or wash away (creating a mess you have to spend time cleaning), and also quickly decays, degrades or decomposes — so you have to replenish it again and again to keep weeds under control. It's also difficult to keep mulched garden beds free from dead leaves and debris, but with landscaping stone you can easily remove unwanted debris with a leaf blower.

Landscaping stone is also very effective at preventing weeds, while providing an attractive bed to showcase your decorative plants, flowers and shrubs. You also avoid concern about importing termites into your yard as compared to untreated wood-based ground coverings — and in drier climates, rocks are the ideal choice as they're not flammable.

If your lawn or garden experiences drainage issues, mixing and matching landscaping stones of different sizes like Pavestone's Pea, Pond or River Pebbles helps control water flow and facilitates runoff, while helping maintain your landscaping grading. Pavestone's landscaping rocks are easy to spread wherever you need them, helping to control soil erosion and retain moisture.

While clearly practical, landscaping stone also provides unique beauty for any project. You'll see a wide variety of earth tones in landscaping stone from Pavestone that add nuanced color to your garden beds. They come in a variety of shades of tan, brown and gray, depending on where they were derived.

Another option to consider is Pavestone's Premium White Marble Chips. These beautifully shiny white stones provide high color contrast for your garden beds, or they can be used as a top layer on a bed of Pebbles to create your desired look. Whatever colors you choose, Pavestone landscaping stones resist fading, and they'll beautify and enhance the appearance of your landscaping beds for years to come.

Find Pavestone Pea, Pond and River Pebbles and Marble Chips at your favorite home improvement store, or visit Pavestone to learn more.

4. Automate watering

Installing an irrigation system also saves a ton of time — and ensures your plants are getting the water they need to thrive. Automated irrigation is also a more efficient, effective use of water than sporadic manual watering. While there is a cost up front (depending on the system, size of yard, etc.), installing a good lawn irrigation system can also help improve your property's value.

Using these tips can help save you time and effort, allowing you to make the most of your outdoor space with your friends and family.