Let’s face it, not everyone wants to spend hours in the garden every spring and fall, watering and weeding. If you’d rather garden four times a year (instead of four times a month!), then try these simple secrets, tailored for Midwest gardens.
While annual plants are often bright-colored and pretty, know that you’ll be replanting them every spring and fall. For the best long-term value, look for perennial shrubs, flowers, and grasses that regrow year after year, with minimal fuss.
Find low-maintenance plants.
You’ll want easy, hardy plants that can stand up to Kansas City’s harsh winters, but also survive the hot, dry summers. Try:
- Ornamental grass—grow as high as six feet tall and provide winter highlights; try fountaingrass or blue fescue
- Peonies—big, hardy flowers that are ideal for full sun
- Hostas—tough shade plants come up year after year, in a wide variety of creams, yellows, and greens with purple or white flowers
- Daylilies—produce bright blooms year after year, in yellow, orange, and maroon colors
- Butterfly bush—a drought-tolerant shrub that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies with its pink, yellow, and orange flowers
- Hibiscus—sports giant, colorful blooms annually and is highly drought-tolerant; look for pink, purple, white, red, and orange varieties
- Russian sage—fragrant silver-green and purple shrub that you can plant, then ignore
Keep out weeds with black landscape barrier fabric.
Once your plants are in the ground (or anytime afterward), you can minimize weeds by placing a layer of black landscape fabric around them (cutting holes for shrubs, trees, and plants to grow comfortably). Available at any local hardware store, this fabric allows water to soak through to the roots—while blocking most weeds.
Add a layer of mulch over the fabric.
This does two things: it reduces the amount of weeds growing and also traps more moisture in the ground for your plants and shrubs during the hot, dry summer. Bonus: it also makes the garden look more attractive. Try rock, bark, or plain wood chips.
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