How to Make Your Garden More Hands-Off

Spend more time enjoying your garden and less time toiling in it.

Every gardener has experienced the moment when they wish they could spend less time working in their yard and more time kicking back and enjoying it. In order to truly achieve this, you need to find a way to make your garden more "hands-off." Fortunately, resetting your landscape to make it less work can be a simple task, so long as you know which types of plants to add to your space—and where to put them. Ahead, more ways to make your tranquil yard less of a full-time job.

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Caitlin Atkinson

Place plants thoughtfully.

According to Yoeri Samwel, a garden expert with UrbanStems, adding irrigation systems, keeping up with the weeding, reading up on the plants you buy, and planting them where they will thrive can help reduce the overall amount of work. But there are some tasks, like dealing with weeds, pests, and watering issues, that simply can't be avoided; they come hand-in-hand with running a garden. Making sure you're putting the right plants in the right spaces, however, will help keep those elements under control. "In nature, pests and diseases will always affect vulnerable plants the most," he says. "So, setting them up for success will prevent issues and allow for faster recovery if something happens."

Install irrigation.

Giving plants enough water at the correct moments will help them look their best. Of course, with busy schedules and summer heat, it can be hard to ensure you're getting outside at the optimal times of day. This is why Samwel suggests setting up an irrigation system. "Plants use water throughout the day," he says. "So, if you water manually, plants might not be getting it when they need it, which might not be optimal for growth." According to Samwel, commercial greenhouses water their plants up to 12 to 15 times per day. "Small amounts of water, when regularly applied, will allow the plant to grow much faster." Setting up a small irrigation system allows your plants to get hydration when they need it, helping them grow stronger without much work on your part.

Add a generous layer of mulch.

If you don't want to spend your weekends weeding, Samwel suggests adding a generous amount of mulch to your beds. "Mulch fights weed germination," he says. "You can use plastic ground cover, as well, and just poke a hole for the plant you want in that area." If you let weeds grow too large before dealing with them, you're actually making your job harder, as they'll likely reach the seeding stage before you pull them—which means you'll be dealing with those weeds eventually, as well.

Integrate native plants into your landscape.

While Samwel doesn't think that adding native plants will necessarily make your life easier long-term, adding varieties that you want to see growing in your space will, since you won't have to constantly fight against them. "As they are living things, they will always find a way to enter the garden," he says. "I would pick a group of native flowering plants that bloom in succession from spring to fall." As an added bonus, Samwel says this will enable pollinators to look for food in your backyard.

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