Let me deal with the question first. Is gardening hard? Hell yeah. Having a great garden is serious physical work. The data below will give you some sense of this.
Rough Equivalents of Different Forms of Exercise.
- Resting value of 0
- Watering lawn or garden; standing or walking, sitting, knitting, sewing have a relative value of 1.5 over resting.
- Walking and shopping have a value of 2.3
- Applying fertilizer (walking), mowing lawn (riding mower) value 2.5
- Carrying or stacking wood; clearing land; digging sandbox; laying sod 5.0
- Playing softball or baseball, general; bicycling (stationary), general 5.0
- Shoveling snow (by hand shoveling); mowing lawn (walk, hand mower); Gardening w/heavy power tools has a value of 6.0
- Aerobics and swimming carry the same 6.0 value.
Is There A Way To Make Gardening Easy
Here are three ways to make gardening as easy as possible.
- Put a four-inch layer of organic mulch down all over your garden. This will reduce weeding by at least 90%.
- Only plant shrubs and evergreens. No flowers.
- If you must have flowers, plant annuals exclusively. No perennials.
Mowing the lawn has an exercise value of 6.0
Doug, You’re Raising a Lot of Questions Here.
That’s my job. To get you thinking about real gardening. Not the gimmicky stuff you read about on the Net.
My guess is you’re asking about why I say don’t grow perennials if you want to garden easily. Think about the following.
- Annuals do not require heavy digging and dividing after several years. Plant them in the spring and pull them out in the fall
- Annuals tend to bloom for much longer times than perennials.
- Annuals require far less maintenance during the season – being more a plant and forget kind of gardening.
- If an annual is damaged by insects, it bounces back quicker than a perennial. Some perennials don’t recover to regrow new leaves if the originals are damaged.
But Doug, You Grow A Ton of Perennials
And I call myself a gardener too. But the more perennials I add to my garden, the harder I have to work to maintain them. Even if I mulch like crazy (I do) or grow as many low-maintenance plants as I can.
Are You Saying Those Books About Easy Gardening Are…
Let me finish that thought for you. The three tips for easy gardening are above. Anything else is simply window-dressing or bumpf.
There is no shortcut to having a good garden. It takes work to do this stuff. A good garden doesn’t exist on a few minutes a week (unless it’s using the three rules above)
It takes a lot of work to learn how to garden. It takes hours actually spent in the garden so you can recognize a sick plant without even having to think about it. To recognize insects you want to have in your garden from those you don’t. To know when it’s necessary to control those you don’t (not very often frankly).
It takes years to figure out what works or doesn’t work in your garden, in your neighbourhood soil, in your climate, in your region of the world.
Yes, you can shortcut this by taking courses and talking to good gardeners but to really understand, to really know, it’s going to take hard-earned experience on your knees in the garden.
But I Don’t Want To Spend Years Learning How To Garden – I Want It Now
Tough. I’ve said this before. Gardening is the slowest of the performing arts. You won’t learn to paint in a single course or play the piano after a few lessons. Why would you expect to garden without practice?
Gardening Is Like Any Other Hobby
The good news is you can garden easily by following the three easy rules at the beginning of this post.
The bad news is as soon as you stray away from those three rules by adding “just this one plant” is when you start adding work (but extra rewards) to your garden adventure.
You decide how much work you’re going to do in your garden and how important gardening is to you.
But never for one minute believe marketers when they tell you this (insert tool, plant, fertilizer, Internet miracle cure, brand new discovery) will make your garden easier.
So yes, gardening can be hard work – both physical and mental.
And yes, gardening can be a tough skill to learn beyond the basic level. Learning it will take time and effort.
And those who describe it as anything else are working to sell stuff.
Doug’s Final Thought On Easy Gardening
I started gardening to make a living and found something far better, far more profound.
I don’t garden because it’s easy. I garden because it makes me feel good.
I garden for the physical adventure of it all – it makes me feel good to work hard in the garden (even though I’ll complain like crazy how sore I am.)
I found a way to contact nature and life. I found a way to be in daily contact with real beauty in a living form.
I found something that would reach out, grab me out of my daily concerns and make me take the time to appreciate something outside of myself.
And yeah, often those things are the hardest things to find in our modern life. But they are some of the most valuable to have in your life.
It may not be easy as the books and marketers say to have a great garden, but it’s worth it.