Show Notes

In this episode, we talk about what makes a low maintenance landscape.

  • Mindset – Life > Yard
  • Healthy plants
  • Healthy Soil
  • Right plant right place
  • Natives, adapted
  • Perennials
  • Grouped plantings vs isolated

Links for today’s episode:

this is the aesthetic ecosystems podcast

I’m Ben Hale your virtual design guide

to help you and your family have a

healthy beautiful landscape with less

work what’s up and welcome to episode 2

of the aesthetic ecosystems podcast

thanks for joining me today

today in episode 2 we’re gonna be

talking all about what makes a

low-maintenance yard so what can we do

with your landscape to turn it into one

of these low-maintenance yards and how

can we make your yard better so we can

change your life for the positive so a

few things we’re gonna be talking about

today are your mindset which we talked

about in episode one as well but I want

to touch on it again because it’s so

important and it’s something that’s

easily glossed over because we were

talking about landscapes here right your

yard what does your mindset have to do

with it so we’re gonna touch upon that

we’re in talk about healthy plants makes

sense and we’re gonna be talking about

healthy soil because healthy soil makes

a healthy plant we’re gonna be talking

about how to put the right plant in the

right place because that’s very

important and that causes a lot of

problems as well we’re gonna be talking

about grouped plantings instead of

isolated plantings using annuals versus

perennials using plants that require low

resources using full coverage in your

yard and what that means as well as

reducing lawn maintenance in the last

piece we’re going to touch on is good

transitions in your yards because

usually at the border of your plantings

or whatever border it is in your yard

those are generally speaking the highest

maintenance areas so let’s get right

into it stepping back to the first thing

here mindset your mindset for your yard

is really important we just spent a

whole episode talking about this in

episode 1 if you happen to miss it I

highly recommend you go back and listen

to episode 1 and learn about how

important mindset is

for your yard and I even make the

quantum leap to say that the right

mindset with your yard can change your

life that’s what this podcast really is

all about is how do we free up more time

in our life our busy lifestyle

so we can use that time for things that

are valuable whether that’s spending

more time with your family or your loved

ones or whether that’s using that time

to work toward your dreams and goals but

the most important thing is to not waste

the extra time that we can earn by

changing our landscape it’s very

important because landscapes are

beautiful they can be rewarding spaces

that are fun that are inviting that are

just places to go relax or to de-stress

and that’s what I want your yard to be

generally speaking most people’s yards

can be very relaxing places to hear the

birds to listen to the breeze and to

just stop and enjoy things but at the

same time a lot of those landscapes that

we think about when we think about a fun

relaxing place try and think about maybe

it’s your yard or somebody else that you

know somebody that lives next door down

the street try and think about a yard

that’s just a beautiful relaxing place

you’re kind of envious of it maybe or

you’re very happy about it if it’s your

own yard

think about that place and I can bet you

that that place requires a decent amount

of maintenance to take care of because

most landscapes right now most people’s


you go to an arboretum or wherever most

landscapes that are curated or designed

they’re pretty high maintenance places

whether they require certain timely

inputs like mowing the lawn

if you skip you know a few days of

cutting the grass in the middle of the

growing season it can make a big

difference and you might get some angry

knocks on your door or a planted space

like a garden a appealing garden those

places require a lot of work just to

keep weed free healthy plants and

properly maintained plants

what we’re talking about here is

transitioning spaces like that into

what’s still a beautiful place that

place that you desire to have or you’re

envious of but make it in a way that

doesn’t require so much work and this is

very very possible with proper design

and proper thought and planning going

into your landscape so again when we

plan things properly we can have the

right type of landscape that is

rewarding that is helpful to de-stress

or to relax or just to have fun and it

would be a place to get away for a

little bit to have that space and do it

in a way that frees up time of

maintenance and work so you can use that

time more valuable in whatever way you

think in your life so that’s what the

whole mindset episode was about in a

nutshell and I get into it much more

deeply in episode one so again I

recommend you go listen to it if you

haven’t already to really develop the

right mindset to move forward in

designing the right landscape because

that’s the really the driver to having

the right type of landscape that doesn’t

just suck away all sorts of hours of

your year just to maintain it and keep

it appealing so moving right along once

we cover the the mindset piece is

healthy plants now this may seem a

little odd like of course you want

healthy plants in your landscape but

most often even if a plant looks healthy

on the outside it might not actually be

a healthy plant we want plants that

thrive in our landscape that they just

feel comfortable where they are they

have everything they need right at their

root tips I guess and and they can just

grow without a lot of inputs and

maintenance from you and you don’t have

to keep an eye on them to make sure they

have the right nutrient load or the

right amount of water or the right

amount of sunshine or whatever so that’s

what I mean by healthy plants there is a

volumes and volumes of

information that go into making healthy

plants from different horticultural

guides to scientific guides or whatever

but really what we’re talking about is

getting the plants what they need when

they need it there’s some obvious basics

here the most often you think of water

or maybe even fertilizer for your plants

in your landscape and generally speaking

what you want to do here is is for

whatever plant you have in your

landscape ideally this is before you

plant it that you would do this is to

make sure you have the right resources

already available for that plant when

you need it so think of water does it

have the right amount of water at the

right frequency sometimes different

plants require different seasonal

amounts of water do you have the right

nutrient load so here I’m talking about

available nutrients in the soil already

not necessarily fertilizer inputs

generally speaking we want to avoid the

use of fertilizers because it creates an

unhealthy ecosystem for your plant and

the soil below your plant so do we have

the right nutrients in your soil and

there are tons of ways to figure this

out really intending this to kind of be

a general overview episode the in-depth

episodes will come in the future when

we’re talking about all sorts of

different stuff and getting super

technical and nerdy for the people that

want to get super technical and nerdy

but for now this is kind of a top-level

overview so does your soil have the

right requirements generally speaking if

you have good healthy organic soil you

have the right soil for plants that

thrive in good healthy soil some plants

actually thrive in very poor soils

whether that be a sandy soil or a clay

soil or whatever but low nutrient soils

and so you figure out okay do I have the

right plants if I have low nutrient

soils in my yard maybe I can keep that

yard just the way it is and plant the

right plants that can already thrive in

that situation and again like I just

briefly mentioned maybe you have a sandy

soil so you plant plants that work

best and Sandy conditions or if you have

very hard dense clay maybe it’s so tough

that it even cracks up in the in the dry

part of the year well you can plant

certain plants that do well in those

conditions and maybe yeah that maybe

they go dormant during those times most

likely they do unless you’re talking

about a tree or but they’re well adapted

so they don’t need to require irrigation

or whatever to keep it going

aside from soil fertility there’s tons

of other factors actually I did I didn’t

mention pH as well so there’s even just

in soil there’s tons of factors that go

into what’s the right plant and again

this gets very technical very fast

sometimes but is it’s good things mainly

to keep in mind as you’re going

aside from soil we can also look at

other considerations what are the right

amounts of Sun you’re getting for your

plant what’s the right solar aspect is

another way to phrase that so maybe your

your plant prefers morning sunshine but

not middle of the summer heat with the

sunshine so putting the right conditions

in place for your plant already make

sure that the plant will thrive moving

on to more discussion about healthy soil

healthy soil is a again a whole chapter

in itself but what I’m talking about

here is soil life so there’s a huge

difference between dirt and soil dirt is

the chemical chemical makeup of your

soil what determines its pH what

determines its clumping sighs what

particles are made up of it that sort of

thing so you can have clays you can have

sands you can have loam which is kind of

a mixture of middle particle sizes and

then you can go into what type of

bedrock supports your soil so that

generally determines your pH and what

minerals are present so there’s a lot

that goes into the chemical make

of your soil but that forms a basis to

the health of your soil itself so just

all those chemical pieces you’re talking

about the dirt piece so if you think of

dirt you’re looking at an empty field

that’s in poor condition and in the

summer you know you get those ugly

cracked up appearance of it and your mud

right but when you have a really good

healthy soil take a step into the forest

and you scrape up some leaves and you

get that rich smell that’s what good

healthy soil is is it’s full of life so

this is bacteria fungi or fungi which

ever you prefer to say and all sorts of

microorganisms from nematodes to

crustaceans those are fundamental parts

of a good healthy soil ecosystem that

supports plant life I love talking about

good healthy soils so I’m going to try

and limit myself here but just think of

it this way as an example fungus for

soil health is really really important

fungi can form these expansive fungi

fungal networks that reach very broadly

and communicate to each other through

chemical transport and they connect with

plant roots in a healthy soil ecosystem

to expand the root network by multiple

times what the physical plant structure

can reach and so it can reach all these

different nutrients to help support the

plant growth as well as to transport

water from all these little micro soil

particles throughout your garden space

and so just by having fungi present you

greatly enhance the reach of the roots

of your plants and the adaptability to

different conditions and in access to

nutrients so this stuff is crucially

important to the health of your plants

so healthy soil is not only the chemical

that most often we think about but also

does it support the right micro organism

life to help boost the health of our

plants this all kind of leads into

having the right plant in the right

place so I kind of touched upon this

with healthy plants when we’re talking

about does it have the right conditions

does it have enough Sun and enough water

at the right time of the year well you

can also when you’re planning your

garden make sure you select the right

plants for the conditions that are

present in your garden so this is more

of a planning piece as opposed to a

reactive piece if you already have

established plants but when you’re

planning out your garden are you

planning to spruce up your garden or

expand it in your yard make sure you

have the right plant that’s adapted to

the conditions so if you have take for

example our our front house faces south

and we have a bank that slopes away from

our house so in the middle of the summer

the front of our house just gets just

pounded with hot summer sunlight and the

plants that we put there they have to be

able to withstand that heavy sun

exposure during the summer but on the

flip side there’s a benefit to that

where during the winter it actually

absorbs a lot of heat from the winter

Sun and boosts the soil temperature

right below it higher than say our

backyard that doesn’t get any Sun during

the winter so having the right plants to

go in that situation will help those

plants thrive and help your landscape

more look more beautiful because those

plants are in the right spot with the

right condition to feel healthy and you

don’t have to sit there and tend after

your plans now when you’re thinking

about the right plants in the right

place you can also consider the the

plants that are best adapted to your

local climate so not only the specific

conditions of your garden but also the

regional climate you’re talking about a

lot of times most people think of

natives I love good native plants

as long as they’re aesthetically

pleasing to go in your garden if you

plant something that doesn’t look great

you’re not gonna like your garden right

so we’re talking about plants that look

beautiful but maybe there are also

native plants so one of my favorites for

our area in Ohio is echinacea it’s

quickly becoming a popular landscape

plant as well so this is a native

Prairie plant actually that’s grown

natively across much of the eastern in

middle u.s. States and echinacea has

these beautiful deep pink purple blooms

throughout the latter half of the summer

all the way into early fall and it’s

just this wonderful pop of color they’re

very well adapted to clay soils and they

can tolerate a good amount of heat and

so they just do well even with being

left alone and you don’t have to sit

there intent to them like you would say

to a rose or some of your annual plants

that you might want to put in that space

but aside from natives you can also

consider well adapted exotic plants and

this can be a difficult space because

there are a lot of plants in the

horticultural space that you might find

in your nursery that can be invasives we

don’t want to be putting in plants that

are going to spread to roadsides and and

all over through a native ecosystems

because we can we can really be damaging

a lot of our regional space but if

you’re talking about well adapted exotic

plants these might not you know spread

expansively or whatever and they might

provide a lot of beauty to our space so

going along the line of having the right

plant in the right place we also can

think of the type of plant

so is this an annual plant or a

perennial plant and I’m kind of picking

favorites here and I kind of I mean a


I really prefer perennial plants

perennial plants are plants that come

back year after year after

year and so when you’re thinking about

low maintenance saving time in your yard

of course you would want something that

comes back year after year so the real

trick is picking the plants that are

beautiful give you the right amount of

color and texture in your yard and

landscape and select those perennials

that give you what you want

the reason annuals have kind of become a

huge favorite over the past probably 200

years is because some annuals they are

just beautiful so think of like a zinnia

that that just gives you a giant pop of

color or you know whatever your favorite

flower is odds are it could be an annual

plant because annuals just can provide

such vibrant beauty but unfortunately it

doesn’t last so after it blooms the the

plant generally dies goes to seed and

starts its lifecycle over by reseeding

now with that said if you have self

seeding annuals so if the seeds take

readily and can grow back the next year

without much work those are the kind of

annuals that I love because you can

still get that pop of beauty that you

generally want with an annual and it’ll

kind of take care of itself by dropping

its own seeds in the same place or

nearby and coming back the next year

without you having to sit there and

cultivate it or plant a new plant each

year or go to the nursery and buy flats

of the annuals and it’ll just kind of

take care of itself those are the kind

of annuals that I like but perennials

they’re generally speaking you plant it

once and you’ll get several years of

beauty out of it now there’s a lot of

short-lived perennials where or

perennials that kind of kind of slowly

regress if you don’t divide them

occasionally and that sort of thing but

again if you’re talking about having to

divide one plant every three years let’s

say versus replant every single year for

three years I’ll choose the first one

where I can have a perennial it

established itself it grows well and

then maybe some fall or winter or


I go back and I pull part of that plant

away to let the the remaining piece grow

back with more vigor and I can even

spread the the other piece to a new area

if I want to get more beauty so that’s

kind of why I like perennials is they’re

generally speaking a lot less work given

that you’ve provided them with all the

conditions already that we’ve talked

about now when it comes to plants

generally speaking as well most plants

don’t grow well as isolated specimens so

what I’m talking about here is if you

think about like you go downtown

whatever city you want to talk about

right you you’re walking down the street

you see these trees lining the street a

lot of times they’re in this about three

foot by three foot square of concrete

that’s been removed to allow the space

of one isolated tree to grow so you can

have a little bit of nature in your city

but not too much right so that’s an

isolated planting now you step over into

suburb yard you kind of see the same

thing an expansive lawn it kind of

punctuated here and there with a tree

the specimen tree here or there or

wherever they’re kind of randomly spaced

well most of those plants they can grow

like that but they generally do better

in groupings and it also helps with your

maintenance to put them in groups as

well so specifically what I’m talking

about here by reducing your maintenance

by grouping is if you have garden areas

kind of general garden areas throughout

your lawn and reduce the amount of

spaces you have to mow around it will

help your maintenance overall you can

match one type of work so garden

maintenance into a specific area and you

can batch other types of work such as

mowing into other areas specifically

what I’m thinking about here is picture

to the yard where

there’s say the front yard has three to

five individual trees spaced throughout

the yard they provide beautiful shade

you have a nice lawn underneath it’s

nice for sitting and relaxing or kind of

playing ball or whatever but when you go

to mow that yard you kind of have to

zigzag around the different trees and

that takes a lot of time and effort just

to adjust to where the trees are instead

if you had those trees surrounded by a

garden area you can mow around the one

garden instead of having to mow around

the three to five trees instead and that

allows your garden to kind of be the

space for the trees and to also

architectural ehelp the planting by

providing various heights of plantings

as well so you might have a few shrubs

in this garden space along with your

three landscape trees and and then

various lower growing herbaceous plants

underneath it and so you get very

texture throughout the year as well as

varied color most likely and you get a

beautiful space with a beautiful garden

so group plantings really help

aesthetically from the visual pleasant

experience of your garden space they

help from a maintenance standpoint by

reducing the amount of variation within

specifically the mowing piece by having

to mow around various pieces of your

landscape instead of just mowing a

specific block of space and they also

help with the health of your plants

generally speaking so because plants are

best adapted to growing your other

plants generally speaking they actually

prefer that because they’ve evolved that

way now we’ve already gone through

several tips and at this point we’ve

actually spent a good chunk of time so

what I’m doing here is I’m batching this

low maintenance plants in low

maintenance yard topic into two episodes

so today what we’ve covered is very

importantly the

mindset that your life is more important

than your yard and having that right

mindset really predicates whether or not

you have a low-maintenance yard because

without the intent there to have the

low-maintenance yard and putting

priorities on your life you’re not going

to have a low-maintenance yard because

it’s not at the forefront of your

priorities when you’re designing your

landscape or maintaining your landscape

having healthy plants so providing the

space for the plant that is it is best

adapted to helps create a healthy plant

without extensive inputs on your part

having healthy soil as well provides the

right environment for most plants to

thrive by having the right amount of

soil life as well as chemical makeup of

your soil to provide the right

foundation for your plants having the

right plant in the right place so giving

the right conditions knowing those

conditions of your garden and then

selecting the right plants that are best

adapted to that as well as selecting the

plants that are most aesthetically

pleasing to you having grouped plantings

versus isolated plantings really reduces

your maintenance schedule and what as

well as boosting the health of your

plants generally speaking and in between

they’re also having perennial plants

versus annuals or self-seeding annuals

but generally speaking the plants that

come back year after year without you

having to require tons of inputs so next

episode we’re going to be jumping into

what are some of the low resource plants

what makes a low resource plant

designing full coverage into your garden

reducing lawn maintenance and developing

good transitions for your landscape so

we’ll get into those later pieces in the

next episode and really kind of provide

you a holistic picture of a lot of the

elements that go into making a

low-maintenance yard so before we wrap

up I just want to remind you that if

you’re interested in saving time now

with out having to make

significant changes to your yard itself

just by making simple habit changes I

have put together a free resource for

you already that you can go get at

aesthetic ecosystems calm slash to seven

hours to seven hrs and that will give

you three specific ways you can save 27

hours this season on your landscape make

sure you go over to hit subscribe and

whatever you’re listening on here and to

get updates on future episodes okay now

it’s time to talk about the launch party

guys excuse me not party but partay the

launch party is for the first two months

of the show from March 11th through May

help spread the word spread the word

about the show I really appreciate your

enthusiasm and interest in this show and

I want to get you guys involved and have

some fun while we’re doing it so this is

a chance to have some fun too for us to

get connected to win some prizes and

let’s talk about the prizes before we

talk about what we’re doing so what are

the prizes weekly I am offering a free

consultation with me Ben Hale which is

normally a $99 value so one person each

week that gets involved in the launch


gets a free consultation I’m also giving

away a free offer for one of my ebooks

ten ways to get more beauty with less

work which is the $19 value next the

grand prize there is only one of these

we’re giving away through this whole

launch party so at the end of the launch

partay the organic lawn care manual by

Paul to key so Paul to key himself has

offered to give away one free book to a

lucky winner that’s getting involved in

this launch party and this book is all

about how to manage a healthy lawn from

anything from a golf course style on to

your low maintenance lawn which of

course is something I prefer here on

this show right

I own this book I’ve read this book

multiple times I’ve given it away it’s a

kind of a tattered and worn version that

I have and I use some of these practices

in my own lines so I love this book and

I highly promoted as

and you’ll hear me talk about it

throughout the show but Paul Tookie has

been kind enough to offer a copy of his

book as a grand prize and there’s also a

special surprise for everybody that’s

going to be getting involved in the

launch partay

the rolling river nursery out of

California has offered a special

surprise for everybody that’s involved

the rolling river nursery is a USDA

certified organic nursery so I went

online and I looked around for nurseries

that have online availability ship

through the continental US and have some

great offerings and rolling River

nursery is being kind enough to become

involved with our launch party and

they’re not only are they online

availability but they also are certified

organic which means they don’t use any

harmful herbicides or pesticides that

you have to be concerned with your

family about and so what you’re getting

is a safe and healthy plant they also

offer a ton of edible plants and trees

and shrubs cacti and succulents so they

offer several trees and shrubs that are

adaptable throughout the most of the

United States so definitely worth

checking them out and in addition these

guys are also involved with a non-profit

in Southern California to help local

food movements called planting justice

org so if you want to learn more about

them you can go to rolling River nursery

com and I also want to give a shout out

to Paul to Kies website for his organic

lawn care manual and his other works is

Paul to keep calm PA UL t uke Y and to

sum up guys okay you want to learn how

to get involved with this launch party

go over to aesthetic ecosystems comm

slash pod launch and that’s P o dl au n

CH there’s a link in the show notes and

that’s that’s gonna give you all the

instructions on how to get involved

there’s two ways specifically to get

involved one is through sharing with

your peeps on Facebook and the other is

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both of these are gonna help spread the

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other friends listening to it as well

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and likewise this is gonna be a fun time

so so going over and to aesthetic

ecosystems calm slash pod lunch to get


so thanks for tuning in and make sure

you live with passion and make tomorrow

better than today