Manufacturers are always bringing out new garden products that claim to cut down on maintenance or be maintenance free. A very quick Google search brought up "maintenance free" fencing, gazebos, sheds and garden furniture.
I'm often asked when quoting for hard landscaping products about the maintenance requirements. I've always taken what I think is an open and honest approach, telling the homeowner that none of our installations will be "maintenance free" and explaining how some choices of paving, ( tumbled paviors for instance ), will require more "looking after" than others to keep them at their best.
Cutting down on tedious chores is a good thing but do you think the whole idea of a "maintenance free" garden is one that wants blowing out of the water ?
Certainly YES. Its both misleading for the customer who buys a "maintenance free" product, and bad for us when we have to install something such as plum slate over a whole garden, where the customer is convinced it will be maintenance free, failing to appreciate a sycamore tree which means a few hours weeding every month, and clearing of leaves - just one example.
I also find it seems to encourage what I personally consider ruining of gardens - large areas covered in barren Terram and decorative gravel.
Gary, there is no such thing as a Maintenance Free Garden,
*whether it be stone, depending on the finish, it may need to be sealed with an application every so many years...
*if there is sand and pebble in the garden, well with heavy rains that will be messed up as well or blown with the wind, so that too needs lookin after
*if it is a wall and gets cracks in it, there will be maintenance repair on it
*and with any Plant Material that is used in any garden,
well this is what I tell my Clients...."A plant is a Living thing, it is like a small child which grows and prospers and needs GUIDANCE and MAINTENANCE through the years for a wonderful life, so there will definitely be work involved"...
Plant artificial or live in an apartment for no maintenance !!!
I am asked by a lot of customers is the paving you install maintenance free or will i get weeds growing in the joints of the block paving and they are normally referring to the driveway adjacent to where they live what has not been cleaned or maintained for several years and are basically asking "will my paving end up looking like that one"
I tell all of them that i can guarantee you will not get any weeds growing up through the paving but i can't guarantee that you won't get any what have blown from another garden or a bird has dropped a seed and it starts to germinate in the joint as that is beyond anyones control and down to the home owner to keep it clean
I explain if you clean the block paving twice a year with hot soapy water and to remove any weeds this will certainly help to keep it looking as good as the day it was first laid, any stubborn areas may require the use of a pressure washer but always proceed with care and don't use the lance at 90 degrees and full blast on the paving whats being cleaned
I don't tend to get asked for maintenance free options too much, but one client has this set in his mind as he hates green stuff. The garden will be simple with stone chips on certain slopes, patio areas and some simple mulched beds with sparse but interesting shrubs that won't need much care.
Of course we all know every garden needs maintaining as they are open to the elements. Perhaps a large house extension to create a covered garden with purely artificial features would be maintenance-free! Any work on the extension/conservatory would therefore come under buildings maintenance rather than garden maintenance.
Gary we've certainly seen a huge rise in the number of customers wanting maintenance free garden furniture.
We've had to re-design our products from 10 years ago when the most popular furniture material was wood. Now everyone wants Rattan because it is 'vitually maintenance free' - i.e. just needs a quick clean when dirty.
I can see it from the perspective of the customer - they want to spend as little time as possible maintaining their gardens, but as you all rightly point out - no garden is ever mainenance free.
We also sell our furniture as maintenance free the only thing it may need is a wash down once a year if it grows moss ,other than that if left it just goes silver grey.
That said i have lots of people wanting too oil the work even though it will make odds too the timber and washes out in a few months .
Agree with Gaynor and Brigitt, maintenance free gardens just don't exist - whatever materials used there has to be some maintenance to keep them looking at their best - living or not.