There is nothing quite like warm rays of sunshine to inspire you to get outdoors and enjoy the wonderful world of gardening. But if you’ve ever felt that growing a garden is just too much work, then stick around and try these great tips for gardening without stress. You will find that gardening does not have to be an all or nothing venture, and that it can prove to be a relaxing pastime and enjoyable hobby.
1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
For some, this means that a few flower beds is plenty, but it can also mean that you don’t need to rototill up a whole acre, or half the backyard. Keep your garden to a reasonable size so that it doesn’t become overwhelming. It’s amazing how much food you can grow in a fairly small space, so unless if you have a huge family, don’t think you won’t have plenty of bounty to enjoy if you go small.
2. Try raised bed gardening.
This is a spin-off of number one above. When you plant in a contained space like this, it limits you (in a good way!) to the area within your boxes. It also means that you will eliminate certain tasks (such as the aforementioned rototilling), and reduce other tasks (such as weeding).
3. Protect your back and knees.
If you garden in raised beds, you will not need to bend down so low to work with your plants. In fact, what I’ve done is to actually create a “ledge” or seat on the edges of my raised beds that allow me to literally sit comfortably on the side and attend my garden in relative ease. This makes it physically less difficult and thus reduces my stress drastically! If you don’t have raised beds, use a rolling cart, knee pads, or other devices to help keep your body from hurting.
4. Buy plants whenever possible.
Some kinds of garden veggies grow easy enough from seed, but others are a pain to get started and need special attention (think early care in a greenhouse!). If you can find “starts” that are ready to be transplanted, you will eliminate some of the headache and disappointment that can make gardening stressful. This is especially important if you don’t have a great area that will provide perfect germination conditions for tender seedlings.
5. Don’t let the weeds get out of control.
Easily one of the least favorite parts of gardening is weeding. It usually needs done the most in the heat of summer and that can make it really seem like a chore! Instead of fighting against weeds, do what it takes to control them in the first place. For a home garden, the easiest way to do this is to A: use raised beds (see above!) and B: cover the ground in one of the following: black plastic, multiple layers of newspaper, or a single layer of cardboard. Weeds will not be able to penetrate these and cannot grow without sunlight. You will likely still need to weed the perimeters, or around the base of each plant, but the better job you do of covering exposed ground, the less weeding you’ll need to do.
6. Work in the cool of the day.
Early in the morning or in the evening just before dusk are the times when the worst of the heat is gone and it won’t be so likely to zap your energy or make you sweat unbearably. Gardening when it is mostly pleasant outside will help you enjoy it more and make it more relaxing. It is likely that you will get to feel a cool breeze, as well as enjoy the sounds of the birds and the insects that also enjoy those times of day. These are also the best times of day to water your garden, since you don’t want the water droplets to burn your plants in the heat of the sun.
7. Bring music into your garden space.
Though sometimes silence is golden and a garden is a great place to think in a quiet place, sometimes it can be fun and relaxing to fill the air with the beautiful chords of sweet music. Not only is it great for us humans, plants also have been shown to enjoy music, especially of the classical type.
8. Don’t be in it just for productivity.
That’s right…if you go into it with the right mindset, then it will be far less stressful. Of course you hope that you will gain a bountiful harvest, but let that be a bonus. Garden for the joy of it.
May a touch of sunshine inspire you to experience the feeling of earth between your fingers!
Melanie is mom to five energetic kids, including a sweet little toddler. She enjoys homeschooling her children from a peaceful parenting perspective and traveling with her family whenever she can.