Slow Gardening isn’t lazy or passive – it actually involves doing more stuff, carefully selected to be productive without senseless, repetitive chores. By focusing on seasonal rhythms and local conditions, it helps the gardener get more from the garden while better appreciating how leisure time - and energy are spent.
More than mere tips for easy gardening, it’s more about thinking “long haul” and taking it easy. Life has lots of pressures - why include them in the garden?
Some ways of slowing down in the garden:
- Spread out your chores; do a little all alongs instead of overloading weekends.
- Stop planting like farmers, all at once; plant a little at a time when the season and weather are right. Plant raised beds and containers continually all year.
- Develop a long-term, relaxing garden pursuit such as bonsai or topiary, garden photography, growing cutfowers, collecting or hybridizing cultivars of a favorite plant, a manicured but small "hobby" lawn, composting, or beekeeping.
- Garden for all the senses – wind chimes are as important as nice fragrances.
- Right plant, right place - choose pest-resistant plants well-adapted to your local climate and soils, plant them well, and let them grow without being pushed. Try untested new plants in a small area to see how they grow for you.
- Have something in bloom every week, if not every day, of the year. Include plants that bloom in the evening, and notice the moths that visit after dark.
- Carefully select and display sculpture or other garden art, for all-year inspiration. Have local artisans create art or working bits (gates, etc.)
- Grow your own – propagate enough plants for you and friends or neighbors.
- Grow your own fruit. Dry some or make preserves to share with others.
- Lose some of the lawn, making it smaler and neater, with edges and corners easier to mow with less backing up. Lighten up on fertilizers and pesticides, enjoy a few wildflowers. Let a small area become a "meadow" lawn.
- Let some hedges grow informally, instead of keeping everything tightly sheared. Or create a hedgerow with mixed plants and wildlife.
- Design your landscape for people-comfort. Include all-weather seating, dry paving, shade in the summer, and wind protection in the winter.
- Install a fire pit and waterfall, and use them as part-time relief from television.
- When practical, use quiet hand tools over noisy power equipment. Keep digging and cutting tools sharp and efficient.
- Get personal with your weather - use a rain gauge and outdoor thermometer.
- Enjoy and put the sun to work - hang a clothesline, make sun tea.
- Garden to encourage year-round wildlife. Include a well-stocked bird feeder.
- Compost - or just a neat leaf pile, letting it work on its own schedule.
- Take it easy on vacation - visit public botanic gardens, and walk around older neighborhoods to savor what is grown locally by hands-on gardeners.
- Shop at a farmer’s market for in-season, locally-grown produce.
- Take advantage of area garden lectures, seminars, and shows.
- Browse good gardening sites on the Internet. Check out recommended links.
- Ponder the mysteries of the universe in the microcosm of your own back yard.
- Keep a garden journal, including online with digital photographs.
- Share relaxing garden techniques and easy, rewarding plants with children.
Do better. As Steve Bender, senior garden editor for Southern Living magazine says, “Maybe you can’t change the whole world. But by slightly modifying the way you garden, you can change your own back yard. And that’s a start.”