My top ten tips for idle gardening

Azalea

1. Have flowering shrubs as the main feature of your planting. Choose an evergreen variety where possible so that your garden looks green in the winter months. Azaleas and rhododendrons are my favourites.

2. Use bark chippings to cover all exposed soil. The deeper the better, say 3 or 4 inches, to discourage weeds.

3. Use ground cover plants in areas between the shrubs. If these grow thickly enough you will not be troubled with weeds. My favourite is heather. There are varieties that flower at different times so with a careful choice you can have a display of colour through much of the year.

4. Have a paved area for sitting out and enjoying your garden. Well laid paving stones are very low maintenance.

5. Have as little amount of lawn as possible. My wife insists on having a lawn but it is quite small, just big enough to take a rotary washing line.

6. Use a hover mower to cut the lawn. This can be swung from side to side whilst mowing so it gets the job done quickly. Do not use a grass box; just let the clippings settle back on the lawn. The clippings will put energy back into the soil. Clumps of grass clippings can be brushed out to disperse them.

7. Plant the right plants in the right place. If the plants are happy they will thrive and you will have less work looking after them them. For example put sun loving plants in the sun and shade loving plants in the shade. If you have acid soil then choose acid loving plants. If you have dry soil then choose plants that will thrive in those conditions.

8. Plant up tubs with flowers that will give a colourful display throughout the summer. Busy Lizzie, begonias and geraniums are my particular favourites. Buy potting compost that has water-retaining granules to cut down on the frequency of watering. If the flower tubs are placed near the house the view from the windows will be enhanced.

9. Use beech as a hedging plant. It is slow growing so only needs trimming a couple of times a year. The leaves turn brown in the winter but stay in place so still form a screen. They drop off in the spring as the new leaves are appearing.

10. If you enjoy a garden barbeque choose one powered by electricity. Just plug it in and you are ready to go. No charcoal or gas bottles to purchase. No ashes to dispose of afterwards. My barbeque is on a trolley that I keep in the garage. I wheel it out at barbeque time, then I sit back with a glass of wine while the sausages sizzle.

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