Yard Work or Relaxation?

You love flipping through garden magazines, watching home and garden programs and, of course, clicking around browsing all the great plant choices there are to design the perfect garden.

You dream of a wonderful garden space you can relax in while watching butterflies flutter, cooking a feast with your own homegrown herbs, or having the perfect garden for a great garden party, not to mention a good ol’ Texas barbecue with friends and family.

As you plan your personal paradise, make plant choices with maintenance in mind. We’ve come up with a scoring system to help you choose. Browse our find-a-plant section, choose a plant that catches your eye and see what the hand clippers tell you.

The number alongside the hand clippers icon on the plant detail page refers to how often the plant needs mowing, pruning, clipping, watering, raking etc. The number basically corresponds to the number of times you have to walk out of your house and mess with it.

The hand clippers are numbered from one to four, from minimal maintenance to quite a bit. The higher the number, the more times a year you’ll need to tend to that plant.

Maintenance Scores

You’ll find that since this is a gardening site dedicated to great gardens with little water, the vast majority of plants on our list are scored a one, and that’s good. But there are some that are higher. And as the plant list grows, we may include some common plants that we don’t necessarily recommend.

Here are a couple of examples of the maintenance score in action.

Sotol has a maintenance score of 1. It may only need a single visit each year, if that, to cut back the flowering stalk after it dries. No fuss, no water, no mow.

Bermuda grass on the other hand, and really any turfgrass, gets pretty unsightly if it’s not mowed every week from April to September, depending on weather. Additionally, there’s edging and watering, lots and lots of watering.

Turfgrass is going to get a score of a high 3. And if you’re really picky it can easily be a 4.

A last word about our efforts to assign a maintenance score to the plants you’ll find here: think of them as guidelines. One person’s shabby is another person’s shabby chic. So the level of maintenance required is often in the eye of the beholder.

As GardenStyleSA grows, watch for specific maintenance chores or type of maintenance on the plant detail page of each plant. You’ll gain a better idea of those chores you must do to sleep at night and those that, well, allow you to relax and read a good book instead.

Picture of Dana Nichols
Dana Nichols
As conservation manager at SAWS, Dana spent her days promoting beautiful San Antonio landscapes that need little to no water while benefiting Texas wildlife. While she’s no longer whipping up new landscape programs, she’s still cooking up delicious dinners made with fresh herbs from her low-water-use garden or planning the next trip with her husband, Rick -- preferably to some exotic place that requires a passport.
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