How to Be an Effective Lazy Gardener

Gardening can be tough work. Pulling weeds when the mid-summer temperatures are skyrocketing is just too much. Keeping track of when and what to plant and prune, making sure everything is all watered…it’s a lot!

Your garden might look messy and overgrown when things get out of hand. You might feel like a lazy gardener, especially when everyone on social media has aesthetically pleasing gardens.

Don’t sweat it if you’re not cut out for the “management position” of gardening. Here are some tips on being an effective “lazy gardener” to make the most out of the little work you put in!

  1. What is Considered “Lazy” Gardening?
  2. Accept Your Accidents
  3. Making the Most of Overgrowth
  4. Grow More with Less Water
    1. Teach Your Plants to Drink Less
    2. Use Mulch
    3. Olla Irrigation
  5. Containers Are Your Friends
  6. Enjoy the Way You Grow

What is Considered “Lazy” Gardening?

Lazy and productive are subjective terms, meaning that what one person might deem lazy may be another person’s definition of a productive afternoon.

Lazy doesn’t mean careless.

A “lazy” gardener might not be bothered to set up a drip irrigation system, so they water their plants by laying the hose on the ground and moving it around every five minutes. The plants are still being watered, aren’t they?

A “lazy” gardener might throw dead plants behind the shed instead of preparing them for the compost bin or taking them out to the dumpster. That’s no big deal—it will decompose into compost someday!

Gardening can be more labor-intensive than you bargained for. You might not have the time or the energy to break a sweat each day. Gardening should be an enjoyable experience you’re excited to take part in. You have every right to cut corners if something is killing your vibe.

Accept Your Accidents

You’ll need to learn to go with the flow to be an effective lazy gardener. If your zucchini and squash cross-pollinated, your tomatoes quickly grew out of control, and you don’t know what that plant is that popped up, just wait and see what happens.

Mistakes are inevitable in any garden, but a lazy gardener isn’t bothered by them—they see them as a fun surprise. Maybe that hybrid zuke will taste great!

Some mistakes are more detrimental than others and will require some less-than-lazy effort. If you overwater your plants, allowing them to dry out for a few days may not be enough; you may have to replant them in drier soil. On the other hand, there’s a point of no return if your plants get too dry.

Accepting your accidents isn’t letting your garden die out mid-season. It’s learning to go with the flow and not let a few mistakes ruin your gardening experience.

Making the Most of Overgrowth

Oops! Your tomato plant now looks like a tree, and your cucumbers are climbing over everything.

Some gardeners work extra hard to prevent this from happening, while others do what they can to correct the mistakes after they happen. Lazy gardeners may look for a way to make the most of the situation.

Pruning indeterminate tomatoes is necessary to prevent disease and improve fruit production, so it’s not great if your plan gets out of control. However, you may end up with a few more tomatoes if the plant grows like crazy, although the size and quality may suffer. Maybe you’d rather have several smaller tomatoes, anyway.

If your vining plants are climbing up other plants, you risk suffocating the now-supportive plants. If you don’t mind losing those, let the vines do what they do best and leave them alone. Or, you can cut the vines that climbed your other plants rather than trying to remove and redirect them.

A viable option for any overgrowth is to let it keep growing, but consider what you’ll lose if you do that. Who knows, an entire strawberry patch might be what your garden was missing!

Grow More with Less Water

Lazy gardeners run the risk of underwatering their plants. Watering can be time-consuming and gets old quickly unless you have drip irrigation. Fortunately, you can turn your weaknesses into strengths with a little extra (or, in some cases, less) effort in the beginning.

Teach Your Plants to Drink Less

Yes, this is a thing! Plants can adapt to less water, but you have to train them that way from the beginning. The trick is to water deeply. If the top few inches of the soil dried out and now the bottom four inches are wet, the thirsty plants will grow deeper roots in search of water.

It takes some time to develop deep roots, so you need to stay on top of watering for seedlings since they have shallow roots. Water deeply and reduce the frequency as they grow. Eventually, you’ll have drought-tolerant plants that can skip a few days of watering!

Side note: Not every plant can adapt to this lifestyle, as some plants just aren’t designed to be drought tolerant. This method will require experimentation to figure out what works in your climate.

Use Mulch

Mulch is a miracle worker. Use up to two inches of mulch around your plants to keep the soil cool and prevent evaporation. This will make the water available for your plants when needed. When you combine this method with teaching your plants to drink less, you’ve got easy days ahead of you!

Olla Irrigation

Watering with ollas is an old practice that’s making a comeback. An olla is a clay pot buried in the ground to water plants. Fill the olla with water, cover it, and your garden will water itself. Water will seep out of the olla, and the roots will grow toward and around it to get water.

You can use terracotta pots or purchase ollas. As long as it’s uncoated and unpainted terracotta, you’ll be able to use them in your garden.

They aren’t a perfect watering system since the terracotta pores can clog, shallow roots won’t be able to reach them, and you have to refill them, but they can certainly help you out if your mature plants are becoming annoying to water.

Containers Are Your Friends

If you hate weeding, bending over, and untangling unruly plants, grow in containers!

You can put them on tables for easy access or move them around as needed. You won’t have to weed as often, and if your plants aren’t receiving proper sunlight, you can easily adjust them as necessary.

You might see moving containers around as too much work, but once you find the right spot, you won’t have to move them around as often. You also won’t have to dig as much, either.

Enjoy the Way You Grow

“Lazy gardening” isn’t lazy at all—it’s simply removing the steps that make gardening unenjoyable.

Don’t worry if your garden looks a little messy or if you’re cutting corners. There aren’t any set-in-stone rules you have to follow, so do what works for you!

Kaleigh Brillon is a freelance writer specializing in web copy about gardening. If you need blog posts, product descriptions, newsletters, or anything else that can be written, Kaleigh can help you! View her Services page to learn more.