Garden, Gardens, Green Living, sustainability

Plant an Autonomous Garden


As satisfying as it is to have a sprawling garden at home, maintaining all that greenery can be incredibly time-consuming and labour-intensive, and there aren’t many people who have that many spare hours or even the skills required. One answer to this conundrum – aside from not having a garden at all – is to craft a backyard that doesn’t require a lot of input and maintenance and that doesn’t gobble up important resources, like your time and our precious water. Landscaper Deidre Causton of Inspirations, a Johannesburg-based company that offers a full-spectrum design service for outside spaces, suggests the following tips for crafting a more self-sufficient garden.

  • Remove lawn and plant this space with indigenous grasses like Juncus or Anthiricum saundersii. These options self-seed and require minimal maintenance.
  • In sunny areas, create succulent beds with focal plants like Aloe bainesii as well as a selection of groundcovers like aptenia and firestick plants (Euphorbia). These tick two important boxes in that they’re both more or less self-sustaining and they need less water.
Two types of Euphorbia serve as a very low-maintenance option that's still attractive Two types of Euphorbia serve as a very low-maintenance option that's still attractive

  • For colour, you can do a mass planting of agapanthus in sunnier areas and of zantedeschia and clivias in shady beds. They need very little care to thrive.
  • Make use of stepping stones, railway sleepers, pebbles and crushed stone with weed guards as these still create interest but alleviate the need to water and mow lawns.
Garden-pebbles Lanes of pebbles make a garden less demanding

  • Plant other water-wise plants, like plumbago, olea and chondropetalum, wherever you can.
  • Set up a system to harvest your rainwater and create natural ponds and pools to channel it into. You can then use this water to irrigate your garden.