Marianne Binetti

Being a lazy gardener is easier — and more productive — than you might think

Hanging baskets and thirsty pots of annuals should be a just few steps from the water source because they will need frequent watering.
Hanging baskets and thirsty pots of annuals should be a just few steps from the water source because they will need frequent watering. TNS

The third week of September is the time to fertilize the lawn, buy and plant spring blooming bulbs, continue to weed, water and mow and replace plants that give you grief, grow too big, grow ugly, don’t bloom or are growing in the wrong place.

There’s a lot to do in the garden this time of year — unless you plan for a more carefree landscape.

One secret of being a lazy gardener is to grow what you love and get rid of the demanding divas. (Learning how to water with less work, putting the right plant in the right place and weeding at the right time of year also help.)

Fall is a good time to think back on all the energy you spent on landscape maintenance and decide what you enjoyed doing, what you have time to do and what you can eliminate.

The Secret to Carefree Lawn Care: Let Your Lawn Go Golden

If high water bills and dragging around a heavy hose made you a cranky homeowner, then consider letting your lawn “go golden” or dormant next summer.

In our climate, the lawn will green up again in the winter. A dormant lawn also needs little to no mowing, and you don’t have to fertilize at all in the summer.

The Secret for Less Watering and Less Work: The Chocolate Chip Cookie Approach to Plant Placement.

Think of how a chocolate chip cookie is moist in the middle and crispy at the edges. Now apply this concept to your landscape.

Moisture-loving plants and containers should be in the middle of the yard close to the house. Crispy plants or those that can survive without extra water should be around the outer edge of the property.

This means hanging baskets and thirsty pots of annuals need to be just steps from the water source because they will need frequent watering and you want to save steps. (Ignore that Fit Bit — on some summer days we should enjoy being a bit lazy.)

Avoid small pots, clay pots and urn-style containers with little room for soil, unless you enjoy hand watering and don’t mind the daily attention they require in the summer.

Plant tough plants, such as conifers, natives and succulents, around the crispy edges of your property so you can look at them, enjoy them but not have to drag out a hose or sprinkler and water them.

The Secret to No Pruning

It’s no secret that overgrown plants and the need to hire professionals to keep them under control makes older homeowners consider condo or apartment life.

But there is no need to give up a large yard because of maintenance if you learn to landscape like a lazy gardener.

Instead of large rhododendrons, hedges and fast-growing shrubs, plant dwarf evergreens near your home as foundation plants.

Breeders have come up with slow-growing evergreen shrubs, well-behaved ground covers and now even dahlias that stay under 3 feet tall and never require staking.

Many shrubs and trees have tidy shapes (look for varieties called “columnaris” that have narrow growth habits ) and you can enjoy years of neat and tidy shrub growth without needing to sharpen the shears or hire a gardener.

“Secrets of a Lazy Gardener”

Marianne Binetti will discuss “Secrets of a Lazy Gardener,” at a free garden seminar from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday (Sept. 19) at University Place City Hall, 3715 W. Bridgeport Way W. No registration required.