How To Be A Laid-Back Gardener

By Mary Ellen Ellis | April 7, 2022
Image by Schwirl52
by Mary Ellen Ellis
April 7, 2022

Every gardener has their own style and approach. I’m definitely on the relaxed end of the spectrum. To each their own, I say, but if you feel like you could be a little more laid-back about your garden, here’s what you need to know.  

Plant More Native Species

Native plants in your area evolved to not just grow there but to thrive. With native species instead of exotics or invasives, you immediately reduce your gardening workload. 

These plants will need less water and tolerate occasional dry periods. They likely do well in the soil in your yard and don’t need much modification or fertilizer. They also co-exist with native wildlife. 

Unlike many non-native plants, natives do not take over beds. You will spend less time pulling out plants overstepping their bounds. 

Embrace Perennials

Annuals can be lovely, and I do grow some each year, but perennials are much less work. An annual is typically a tropical species that only grows in a temperate climate in the warmer months. 

As such, they require special care. They may need a particular soil and special fertilizer. To keep annuals growing well into fall, you need to trim, shape, and deadhead them. While perennials do need some maintenance too, it’s generally much less. 

Take Your Time with Mulch

Yes, spreading mulch is a chore, but ultimately it saves you time and effort. I replenish the mulch in my beds every few years because it helps suppress weeds and holds moisture in the soil. This means less time spent weeding and watering. 

Create Natural Areas

I have one corner of my yard that resists formal gardening, mostly because it is very shady. I found success in one small area by growing ferns, but I let the rest of it go to nature. It’s a brambly, shrubby, mossy mess, but I like it. Wildlife likes it too, and I have even caught deer curled up in there napping.  

Let Some Things Go

This is at the heart of the laid-back gardening philosophy. It’s not all about tips and hacks to make gardening easier. It’s about relaxing your attitude toward the garden and how it looks. 

For me, most of the garden does not need to look perfect, nor should it. No garden can be perfect, and when you let go of that goal, you’ll be ready to embrace laid-back gardening. 

This means that I weed my beds, but I don’t feel the need to pull out every last one. If I don’t divide my day lilies every three years like clockwork, it’s ok. Sometimes my annuals get a little leggy because I didn’t trim them back enough. 

This is the way I prefer to garden. It’s not for everyone, but for me it works. 

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