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Take the Work out of Gardening: 3 Secrets to Simplicity

February 24, 2012

Written by Jesse Richardson 

When choosing a more sustainable lifestyle, many people assume that it will be laden with hard work, sweat, and even tears. When it comes to gardening, the worry of time and effort becomes even greater, causing many people to not even attempt the venture. We’re here to tell yougardening does not have to be tough. In fact, it can be quite simple once the preliminary work has been done.

Here are a few tips for taking the work out of gardening!

Number 1. Don’t Dig

The first thing to do is not dig. That’s right – a garden with zero start-up digging! You will, of course, still have to harvest the vegetables from time to time, but that’s the fun part.

So how do we avoid digging?

Use a raised bed planter! Rather than digging and tilling, raised bed planters allow you to layer healthy, organic material on top of each other. Not only does this help protect the chemistry of the nutrient-rich soil, but it makes it easy to tend to. Simply add your compost or other natural fertilizers (see below) to the top of the mix and let nature pull it down to the root level through watering and microorganisms.

Number 2. Keep the Garden Healthy, Naturally

Next up, use nature to keep your garden healthy. There are a lot of theories concerning tilling methods, composting, mulching, and so on and so forth. The main thing to remember when employing any of these techniques is to stay natural! Here are a few simple ideas to avoid getting your hands dirty:

  • Compost: Start a compost heap from your food waste generated at home. Keep in mind the compost system you’re using as certain food shouldn’t be added in open piles – meat and dairy, for example. Bokashi is a notable exception to this rule. Once you’ve got your compost, layer it around your plants!
  • Mulch: Want to avoid weeding so often? Layer a nice bed of mulch over that compost and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it will be to maintain your plants. Mulch helps restore nutrients, too. Here’s a great list of mulch types and when to use them!
  • Cover crops: In between seasons, be sure to use cover crops to keep the soil healthy and full bodied. Many people consider these a form of “green manure” with more than one purpose: it works as both a fertilizer and pesticide. These cover the space weeds might otherwise occupy (pesticide, in a sense) while enriching the soil and reducing the need for what we might consider to be “conventional” fertilizers. Awesome!

Number 3. Use the Right Tools

Finally, one of the best ways you can make sure you’re minimizing work is that you are using the right tools. Of course, as Charles Dudley Warner noted in My Summer in a Garden, 1871, “What a man [or woman] needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it.” By far, this is the best tool, but what else can we do?




For watering, get yourself a soaker hose. With a timer, these make getting water to the roots easy. Plus, you can sneak them around hedges and under mulch to avoid exposing the hose to the elements or human eye!




When it comes to planting, if you’re using this no-till, no-digging method, one of the best tools you can get is simply a good chair or stool. Granted this sounds a bit silly, supporting your back and posture is a tool with some serious investment importance.

With these tool and tips, you should find gardening to be a lot easier!


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