Time can often be in short supply, and for many gardeners, a lack of time can be one of the biggest challenges in their gardens. But there are a number of time-saving hacks for gardeners to consider. Creating a more low-maintenance space does require some careful thought. But it is easier and more straightforward than you might think.
Here are some important strategies which can help if you are feeling a little time-poor:
Zone Your Space
First things first, good garden design can make a big difference to how long it takes you to undertake common garden chores. In permaculture gardens, the way to overcome inefficiencies which cost time is to zone the space.
Zoning is all about common sense. The parts of the garden that must be visited most frequently and managed most intensively – such as annual kitchen gardens, are placed closest to the home. (in zone 1), while other less frequently visited parts of the garden are placed further away. Up to 5 or so zones can be created, depending on the size of the garden and the features which are included in the design. With wildest, unmanaged areas furthest from the home or the centre of operations.
Zoning can help you to make sure that you are not wasting time on travelling to and from the parts of your garden in which you will spend the most time. The time you save can be spent on other garden jobs. Or simply on taking some time to enjoy the space you tend.
Plan Your Garden Layout To Maximise Efficiency
As well as thinking about zoning your space, gardeners who want to save time in their gardens should also consider time-saving hacks when it comes to layout. The right garden layout involves more than just zoning. To maximise efficiency, you should also think about where each element sits in relation to the other elements with which it interacts.
For example, a kitchen garden should be as close as possible to your composting system, and perhaps to any rainwater harvesting system you have set up, or your water supply. Thinking about the inputs, outputs and characteristics of each element in your garden can help you choose the optimal layout for each element and where they sit in relation to one another. And the layout you choose really can make a big difference to how long things take.
Create Polycultures and Guilds
Mono-crop planting, with just one type of plant in each bed or growing area, can be high maintenance planting schemes. Gardeners really can also save a lot of time by companion planting, and choosing plants which aid one another in various ways to create polycultures and guilds.
Ditch mono-crop lawns and traditional row-crop vegetable beds. Instead, save time and effort by creating diverse and resilient ecosystems which have far more capacity to take care of themselves, like polyculture annual beds and forest garden systems. You might be amazed by how much of your own time and effort this can save.
Harvesting Time-Saving Hacks: Plan For Staggered Harvests
Some planning before you begin can also save you time when it comes to busy harvesting periods. Traditionally, many gardeners will sow intensively in a short period over the spring, and harvest many crops all at once later in the season. But planning and planting for staggered harvests can make things far more manageable. And can help you claw back some precious time during some of the busiest times in the gardening year.
When choosing plants and deciding when to sow them, think about when they will be harvested and how much time you will have available at that time of the year.
Pest Control Time-Saving Hacks: Let Wildlife Work for You
Gardeners looking for time-saving hacks should also remember that they are not the only ‘gardeners’ at work in their space. Everything gardens. In other words, the wildlife and plants in your garden also alter their environments. They too play a role and shape the garden ecosystem.
Pest control can take quite a lot of time when an ecosystem is not in balance. But when, in an organic garden, you take steps to attract wildlife, they keep the ecosystem in balance. They can aid in keeping pests under control. The more wildlife you can bring into your garden and keep within the space, the easier organic gardening will be.
Time-Saving Hacks For Watering and Weeding: Mulch To Reduce Weeding and Watering Needs
Watering is of course one of the jobs which can consume much of your time in a garden. But by taking certain steps and implementing certain strategies, you can water far less. And weeding required will also be reduced.
Mulching around your crops and other plants with living plants or organic matter can reduce weeding and watering needs. And can also be a time-saving way to maintain fertility in your growing areas. What is more, mulching is also a good strategy to maintain healthy soil. Which is essential in any low-maintenance and easy-to-manage garden.
Watering Time Saving Hacks: Consider Automation For Watering Systems
Another good way to reduce the time you must spend watering your garden is to consider an automated irrigation system. These can be high tech, or much more low-tech solutions. For larger gardens, especially in more arid areas, drip irrigation can be a good option to consider. It will not only save you time but can also reduce water use and allow you to manage water more sustainably.
Clay pot irrigation or watering globes can also reduce the time you spend on manual watering each summer. So these simple solutions could also be worth considering.
Replace a Manicured Lawn With a Lower Maintenance Planting Scheme
Neat, mono-crop lawns are perhaps one of the highest maintenance planting schemes you could choose. As mentioned above, polycultures and guild planting schemes, with diverse plant and animal life will require far less of your time. They can often be very low-maintenance ecosystems which, once established, need very little of your time.
So if you want to save time then you should consider replacing a manicured lawn with a more abundant, useful and productive planting scheme. You might consider, for example, a wildflower meadow, either annual or perennial, a forest garden scheme with plenty of perennial plants, or another low-maintenance food producing space.
These are just some time-saving hacks for gardeners to consider. There are also a number of other strategies which could help you develop a lower maintenance and less time-consuming garden over time. But the tips mentioned above should provide you with a good place to start when trying to create a garden which won’t take up as much of your time.
What time saving hacks do you employ in your own garden? Which tips or tricks do you have to save time in your space? Let us know and share your suggestions in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.