Low- and no-maintenance features top the list when making over outdoor living spaces. Less time maintaining means more time enjoying.
Villa Landscapes, the design-build group of Twin Cities' Patio Town stores, notes that renovations or new designs utilizing low- and no-maintenance outdoor living features top the list of client requests.
Landscape with Hardscapes
Segmental retaining walls are commonly used to transition elevations or shore up slopes along foundations, but they also can be used to create seating, planters, tree rings and other features.
"Hardscape products like retaining walls and pavers are important tools for both landscapers and do-it-yourselfers in creating low-maintenance landscapes," says Scott Arnold, manager of Villa Landscapes. "With just the VERSA-LOK Standard unit, you can easily create seat walls, curved couches, columns and other features without special pieces."
Retaining wall systems combined with concrete pavers can be used to create beautiful raised patios, replacing high-maintenance wooden decks. In addition to being as cost effective as a wooden deck, a raised patio offers several advantages such as unobstructed views, says Arnold. Retaining wall units and interlocking concrete pavers come in a variety of colors, shapes and textures to complement any landscape design and are often used to create design continuity in outdoor spaces.
Low Maintenance & Environmentally Sound
Permeable pavers are an environmentally sound and low-maintenance solution where impervious surface limits, storm water management, water quality and water conservation are issues.
"Permeable pavers are a best practice for storm water management and quality issues because they prevent runoff and let rain water infiltrate in place naturally," says Burt Plett, product manager of Willow Creek Paving Stones, available at Patio Town stores. "Permeable pavers reduce the need for irrigation in drought-prone areas, unlike poured concrete or asphalt." It's best to consult a landscape professional who is experienced in installing permeable paving systems so that they work properly and consistently.
The use of rock mulch and natural rock in gardens and beds, as walkways and as stepping stones offers an attractive solution to weed control and also lessens the need for irrigation. At least three inches of rock mulch or four inches of natural mulch will prevent weeds. A landscape fabric under the installation offers more insurance against weeds.
A simple way to cut down on trimming is to add a course of pavers along the bottom of a retaining wall, tree ring or planter so the mower can get close to the wall.
Maintenance-free outdoor accessories
Selecting maintenance-free outdoor furniture is an easy way to enhance an outdoor space. Outdoor furniture made of recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE), such as Patio Town's Comfort Craft line, requires no storage or maintenance other than seasonal cleanup with soap and water. Unlike wood, Comfort Craft outdoor furniture won't chip, splint, crack or rot and never needs painting.
Willow Creek's Outdoor Living Kits contain everything needed to create a fireplace, firepit, water feature or grill island and are very popular low-maintenance landscaping products among D-I-Yers. "Homeowners and contractors alike can create beautiful features such as grill islands, bar islands, fire pits and fireplaces that are long-lasting and low-maintenance," Arnold says.