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The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden: One gardener’s story

by Timber Press on May 1, 2014

in Design, Gardening

The Juergens family: Harper, Tim, Kathryn

The Juergens family: Harper, Tim & Kathryn

Timber Press marketing manager Kathryn Juergens needed an inexpensive, low-maintenance solution to a problematic area of her yard, the little sliver between her and her neighbor’s driveway, a wasteland of boring rocks and ugly shrubs. Inspired by Roy Diblik’s The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden, she decided to give his system a try. Kathryn offered to share her story and this post will detail  the progress of her own Know Maintenance Perennial Garden.

Roy Diblik knows plants. Owner of Northwind Perennial Farm and the plantsman behind the Lurie Garden in Chicago, Roy believes the more gardeners know about their plants, the more able they are to create self-sustaining communities with them, greatly reducing the frustration of maintenance. “But I don’t have thirty years experience like Roy does,” says Kathryn, “I needed something to flatten the learning curve.” Kathryn was most interested in Roy’s ready-made planting schemes, “Which is exactly why we published this book, to help gardeners like me.”

May 2013

The Know Maintenance System is modulated to fit any area. Kathryn modified The High Line garden plan for size, as well as substituting daffodils for alliums out of personal preference.

High Line 01b

Kathryn bought the grasses, salvias, and coreopsis at a local favorite, Portland Nursery. The daffodil bulbs she got online from John Sheepers. All the materials needed cost her about $200.


The most difficult part was preparing the soil. Removing the rocks and shrubs wasn’t easy, but fortunately it was a family-affair, with Kathryn and Tim doing the heavy lifting and little Harper supervising, as she does here with the initial planting.


May 2014

While the plants fill in the space, Kathryn uses mulch (shredded bark mixed with compost) to combat weeds. Beside pulling the occasional weed that sneaks through, Kathryn says, the only other maintenance needed has been to cut back the perennials after their first summer.


The garden begins its second spring. “I can already tell the plants will be much bigger this summer and will likely require some thinning,” says Kathryn, but she’s not complaining. “It is a huge improvement and I love how many butterflies the plants attract!”


*We will add updates as time goes on. Please join us in following Kathryn’s story.


Click image below for a look inside The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden by Roy Diblik:

“A stunning guide to creating nature inspired gardens.”—Chicago Tribune


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