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Low Maintenance Perennials

Well-documented research shows that green space has many positive effects on the health and well-being of people. However, according to the Dutch Ministry of Land Use, in densely populated cities in The Netherlands the amount of urban amenity plantings are well below the recommended level of 800 sq.ft. (74 sq. m) per home. If increasing the quantity of plantings is impossible, effectiveness and quality can be increased by creating more biodiversity in green areas.

Herbaceous perennials are an excellent group of plants with which to achieve more variety and color on small sites. They are eminently suitable for use as ground covers, in flower beds, under trees, along roads and waterways and as edging around shrubs. Using perennials is also an effective way to add color and interest to existing urban/public plantings.

Low maintenance perennials are affordable - While it is true that, comparatively, herbaceous perennials can be quite expensive to buy and that preparation of planting sites takes time and money, by using low maintenance species, the reduced maintenance costs compensate for the initial expenditures. Over a 10-year period, a perennial bed does not have to cost any more to maintain than a shrub border or lawn. To achieve this, the right plants have to be chosen; they should be healthy, sturdy and suppress weeds with their excellent ground covering abilities.

Essential conditions for low maintenance perennial plantings
• Improve the soil on the site and thoroughly remove all weeds before planting.
• Choose plants with requirements that match the site conditions, especially for light and moisture.
• Choose the right plants for the desired use (good ground covers for weed suppression, salt tolerant plants for roadsides, etc.)
• No one plant will be suitable for planting in every situation.
• Consider the plant knowledge level of the maintenance crews and be prepared to provide concise maintenance instructions.
• Plant the right number of plants per sq. ft./m for fast coverage.
• Weed and water when necessary and replace dead plants until the ground is covered (usually at the end of the first summer after planting).

Some suitable species for urban plantings:
Alchemilla, Aster, Echinacea, Geranium, Hemerocallis, Liriope, Nepeta, ornamental grasses, Pachysandra, Rudbeckia and Sedum.