I was out in the field today looking at an institutional project that had heavy usage and a low maintenance budget. In these types of situations it can be difficult to establish a successful installation. For planting projects the design and selection of plants and irrigation system are of critical importance in high traffic areas (parking lots, apartment buildings, public areas, residences with active dogs or children come to mind).
Selection of plants is critical; what we typically call Cast Iron plants. These plants establish quickly and take little water or maintenance, such as: Junipers, Agapanthus, Escallonia, Dietes, Photinea, Ivy, Day Lilies, Society Garlic- plants that are frequently used in commercial and dense residential settings.
Irrigation is also critical- it must combine both automation and durability to be as low maintenance as possible. Above ground drip systems are often not as suited to these applications because of traffic over them, and follow-up maintenance required.
For projects where little or no maintenance is to be performed, it is always good to have these elements in mind going into the planning and implementation of the project. Most plantings fail because they are not designed to withstand the environment where they are installed and they do not receive the maintenance and care required to flourish.
Anticpated maintenance schedule is a key factor to keep in mind for both residential and commercial projects. Want a garden like the Butchart Gardens? Be prepared to garden on the weekends or pay for a good professional maintenance service (not just mow, blow, and go)