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Don’t have time to garden? Try these yard enhancements instead

With hard space, native plants and outdoor furniture, your yard can be stunning and require little maintenance.

Let's face it: Homeowners are busy people. They don't have hours to spend trimming bushes, plucking weeds and watering delicate plants, even if they want a backyard that looks like the Secret Garden. So what's a person to do? Let the landscaping remain barren and dull? Fortunately, the answer is no. If you don't have enough hours in the day to plant and maintain a full-out garden (we're picturing blooming flowers, little paths and plenty of seating), you can try alternatives that will also transform your yard into a beautiful retreat. Here are a few options to get you started:

Incorporate hard space
The less lawn space you have, the less maintenance you'll have to do – even grass needs watering and care. Many homeowners do away with some of their lawn and install paving of some kind, which is also called hard space. This could be a patio, deck, pathway, sculpture, etc. Either way, it reduces green space while still making your yard usable.

So what do you do with all this pavement? Turn it into functional areas. You can add outdoor furniture sets to create a living room-like spot, a dining area (complete with outdoor dining sets) or a lounge section. You can also set up firepits and grills to provide more utilization in your yard. 

In addition to having patios where you place furniture, you can install pavement for pathways. They can wind lazily around your yard, follow a more linear path, whatever suits your taste and your overall design concept for your outdoor spaces.

Pick native plants
It's more difficult to keep a palm tree alive in a cold climate than it is in a tropical or subtropical one. Instead of struggling to grow plants that would not naturally appear in your yard, pick native plants to fill your space. This way, the weather does most of the work maintaining your plants. Research which plants are native to your area for starters, and then pay attention when you purchase them.

Most plants you buy at a nursery come with a handy information tag. It says how much direct daylight and water the plant needs. Pick the plants that fit with your yard. For instance, if you get six hours of sunlight in your backyard, find plants that require six hours a day. 

Additionally, note that grasses, shrubs and other greenery are often easier to maintain then, say, roses. Know which plants are notoriously time consuming and avoid them like the plague.

Edge your gardens
Sometimes, grass can grow into the areas where you're trying to have beautiful flowers, choking them out. Instead of keeping plants alive by plucking grass, simply edge your beds. Basically, place a row of rocks or other decorative elements around your gardens. Whether you have a decorative tall grass area or a row of flowers, line the zone to prevent grass from invading – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (or, in this case, gardening time), after all. 

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