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Gardening On The Run

Many people who enjoy gardening lead insanely busy lives. Tending a garden can seem like just another chore and is often the last thing we want to do at the end of a day filled with other responsibilities. But it IS possible to create a low maintenance garden that brings us joy without a major time commitment.

First of all, go small. A large garden multiplies the number of hours you need to devote to weeding, watering, etc. A smaller, well-maintained garden will be more attractive than a large, untended plot. And, psychologically, it's easier to get motivated to do garden chores when the garden is not overwhelmingly large.

Next, choose easy care plants that are hardy, offer a lot of leeway with watering, and don't need frequent dividing to flower well. Perennials are a better choice than annuals as they eliminate the labor involved in replanting every year. Some perennials are both low maintenance and practically indestructible. Good choices include, but are not limited to, Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea), Hosta, Sedum, Coreopsis, and Salvia. Depending on your location, those plants can pretty much survive with rain from Mother Nature, requiring only occasional intervention from you when conditions become extreme. A consultation with the friendly staff at your local garden center can be helpful in choosing plants that are suitable for your zone.

A porch or patio garden consisting of annual container plants can be a good alternative to a regular garden for gardeners on the run. Keep in mind that clay pots, while attractive and rustic looking, dry out much faster than plastic and therefore require more frequent watering. There are some plastic pots that look like clay at a distance and can be an acceptable alternative.

Lastly, learn to live with imperfection. A few weeds will not overshadow the overall beauty of your garden. Friends will not desert you when they come by and see that you haven't deadheaded your petunias. The imperfect garden is better than no garden at all. Choose your plants wisely, do what your can, and then sit back at the end of a long day, enjoying what you created, imperfections and all.