Yes you can still garden when life feels too busy by using these low maintenance garden tips. These are practices I use extensively in my garden to grow a bigger garden with much less effort and attention.
Gardening while having a lot of things on the go can be a challenge at the best of times, and sometimes just down right daunting. I will share with you a few key low maintenance garden tips I use to keep gardening something I enjoy, instead of resenting the time it requires.
In the early years of growing my garden I would have these moments where I would ponder whether I should down size my garden as I let it all become too much. After seriously considering it, the answer a hard no. It is one of those absolutes in my life, so I needed to find ways to manage it better.
I decided growing smaller to make it less work was not an option either, as my garden wasn’t terribly big to begin with.
Why Gardening Is So Important
Access To The Best Quality Food
Being able to grow my own food and have access to best organic, locally sourced food that is packed with the most nutrients and tastes amazing is a big priority for me. I enjoy stepping out my backyard and filling up a bowl for dinner way too much.
The flavours and the creativity that come from using only what you have, being able to cook seasonly based on what nature provides is so powerful.
It has become very apparent to each of us within the last several years what happens when the supply chain is disrupted and we can’t access an essential resource such as our food. The restrictions and delays in accessing goods has also driven the price up considerably. This means that good quality nutritionally dense organic foods are not affordable.
Garden Smarter With These Low Maintenance Garden Tips
I am continuously wanting to grow a bigger garden without creating a ton of extra work for myself, like many other gardeners. This has forced me to get smarter with how I garden so that it’s efficient and manageable. I will share with you garden tips & tricks I use to make my life in the garden a lot easier.
#1 SMALL ACTIONS ADD UP
Doing a little bit each day each day is key. Even just 15 minutes. As far as garden tips go this seems obvious but we don’t always follow through. That is why it has made the top of the list as little actions add up to big ones.
While I go out to harvest items I run my weeding hoe up and down a few rows or tie up a plant that needs more support etc. This helps to keep an eye on the health of the plants as well so you can catch any disease or pests before they decimate your plant.
Pick weeds while chatting on the phone, listen to an audio book while tending the garden or invite a friend over for a day in the sun and dirt. You can send them home with a little treat from the garden as a thank you.
Bonus Mental Health Break
The best part about stepping outside in your garden regularly, taking a few short moments to go around and check on your house plants is the is calming affect it has. Taking time to connect with nature slows your mind and calms your energy quite quickly. There are innumerable proven health benefits to spending with your plants so always a win!
#2 GROW LOW MAINTENANCE PLANTS
There are quite a few vegetable plants that do not require daily attention such as potatoes, squash, carrots, beets, radish, turnip and more. You do not need to worry about keep a close eye on fruit and harvest it in a narrow window like you would cucumber, tomato, peas or beans for example. Planning your crops based on the daily attention requirements is a great way to give yourself more space and time in the garden.
#3 FIND GARDEN TOOLS & EQUIPMENT TO MAKE WORK EASIER
Weeds have always been an issue for me with our elm trees dumping seeds every spring. My BFF of yard tools to clean up the mess is my leaf blower. This has by far been the best yard tool I have invested in. I use it to blast the seeds out the garden and every other crack and crevice in the yard into a nice pile to gather them up.
Weeding is often the biggest maintenance piece in the garden. Other tools that I have found to make weeding a lot easier are long handed rakes, trowels and hoes.
The long handle hoe means you can do the work standing up instead of bending over. It also means you can all the way down a row or into a hard to reach space without having to bust out your best yoga poses to get there. Learn to weed more efficiently with this blog post Essential Weeding Tools For Small Areas.
Gardening is labour intensive at times so one of my essential garden tips is using tools that minimize the effort you have to put in.
I have created several detailed tools and equipment posts to help you find the right tools to make maintaining your garden a lot easier:
- 11 Must Have Garden Tools To Get You Started
- Ready To Take Gardening More Seriously? Use These Must Have Gardening Tools
- Odds & Ends To Add Some Pizzazz To Your Garden
#4 MULCH, MULCH AND MORE MULCH
Mulch is also amazing for keeping weeds at bay. I use mulch is a good portion of my flower beds. It keeps the weeds from being able to root very well and often just stirring up the surface with a rake is enough to unroot and kill them.
There are many types of mulches available for use directly in your vegetable garden bed or around the yard. You can use a thick layer of compost on the top of your soil, composted tree mulch, straw and even grass clippings.
Mulch is part of my garden tips because it bonus benefits as well. It composts itself over time into the soil giving a continuous supply of nutrients and biomass, creating better and better soil structure.
Important to note that you want to look for natural wood mulch that has not been died as chemicals are used to give it it’s colouring (especially if it is near food crops).
Second make sure the tree mulch has been partially composted, ie. not a fresh green tree just cut down. Fresh tree mulch that has not been composted often comes with seeds which means more weeds instead of less. Also the process of fresh green tree mulch breaking down will use of valuable nitrogen that your plants need while it decomposes. Check with a local tree removal company or compost yard to buy it bulk. You will likely get a much better deal that buying it by the bag from a home centre.
#5 IRRIGATION SYSTEM
Watering is often the most time consuming task throughout the season, especially if it is a dry season. Consider investing in a drip irrigation system. Over the years I have slowly expanded a drip irrigation system to cover my garden. This is the single biggest low maintenance garden tips I can give you.
The time and worry it has saved me keeping my plants happy and hydrated is immense. I can go away for a weekend and let the watering system do it’s thing without having to get a plant sitter. On a busy work day I don’t have to worry about forgetting and coming home to crispy dead plants.
Drip irrigation is the most efficient way to get water to the roots of the plant without having it evaporate first. It keeps moisture off of the leaves of the plants preventing disease.
Whether you incorporate a rain barrel system, or pay for municipal water for your garden this will conserve both water and your money.
Consistent watering is essential for the healthy and production of your garden. Many vegetables like tomatoes do not enjoy inconsistent watering. You can end up with splitting or blossom end rot so always a win to not have to worry about that. Inconsistent watering leads to a stressed plant which is usually not a productive plant.
Learn how to design and build your own drip irrigation system with this blog post How To Install A Drip Irrigation System For Vegetable Gardens In 5 Easy Steps.
#6 CLOSE PLANT YOUR GARDEN
Another of my favourite low maintenance garden tips for keeping weeds at bay is close planting. This is the practice of planting your rows and individual plants quite close together. It shades the soil preventing weeds from having a chance to grow as well as helps keep moisture in the soil.
Leaving bare soil anywhere is a bad idea. General rule of thumb. If you don’t plant something there then Mother Nature will!
If you over do it and plant things too close together you can always transplant it to a space where you still have a hole. As you start to learn the growth habits of the plant you like to grow you can plan a little better preventing too many surprises.
To keep the plants happy and healthy in your garden you can also incorporate an amazing organic gardening practice called companion planting. Learn all about companion planting at this post Grow a Successful Garden With This Free Companion Planting Guide.
#7 PRESERVE AS YOU GO
Preserve veggies and herbs as the season goes so you don’t get overwhelmed at the end of the season. This goes back to garden tips #1, small actions add up to bing ones. Don’t let your harvest rot after all your hard work in growing and tending it.
Lots of plants benefit from being harvested often like kale, chard, beet greens, oregano, thyme, sage, chamomile, calendula and so on. They will grow back bushier and more abundant. The leafier greens will stay small so you get to enjoy those delicious baby greens.
Having your canning spices and ingredients readily stocked in the pantry is key to being able to do small batches of preserving as you go. Find my essential list here 13 Must Have Pantry Ingredients For Easy Canning & Dehydrating.
Solarization is practice I have used with great success for many season now. This uses the suns energy to roast out and kill weeds and their seeds by covering wet soil with a sheet of plastic and letting the sun do its work over several weeks. You do this either very early in the season before you plant (if snow cover and weather permit) or after you have harvested and cleared away areas in your garden at the end of the season. Each season you repeat this process builds up the next for less and less weeds popping up each new season.
Learn the whole process in detail here Weed Suppression Supplies For Large Scale
I hope you found these helpful and if you have any questions or want to share any favourite tips and tricks that work for you I would love to hear from you. Drop it in the comments below.