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Get The Dirt: The Lazy Gardener

People tending to a garden with plants and flowers on a sunny day.
People tending garden with plants and flowers

By   Lynn Barber     April 1, 2024

To this day and, I believe, for the remainder of my gardening days, I will remain a lazy yet organized gardener. You, too, can have a beautiful garden while maintaining a lazy gardener lifestyle. Planning and time management are key components to success.

Right plant/right place, the first of the nine Florida Friendly Landscaping™ principles, includes knowledge of your site conditions. Other components are hydrozoning, consideration of plant size and keeping it simple.

Right Plant/Right Place: Analyze sun, shade, water requirements and soil composition.

Lazy Watering: Hydrozone — group plants by water needs and harvest rainwater from roof structures for ornamental plants, not edibles. We offer three types of microirrigation classes: traditional for landscape beds, patio/container and vegetable garden kits.

Size: Determine the garden dimensions, mature plant size and least number of plants needed to fill space. Lazy and smart gardeners do not plant for instant gratification but for mature plant size, saving time, work and money.

Keep It Simple: If you do not water during dry spells, plant drought-resistant bloomers or wait until the rainy season to plant. If you do not rake leaves or pine needles when they fall, create self-mulching landscape beds. If you do not plant annual flowers, plant perennials.

Sweat Savers: Repeat your successes, and if you experience failures, determine why and change your practice. Plant reseeders. Remove dead flowers from a plant to encourage further blooming and save seeds. Use a timer system to perform 15 minutes of a dreaded gardening activity, then stop when the timer goes off. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish.

Time Saver: Wear gloves. This saves time cleaning your hands and fingernails. Two friends have gifted me with garden gloves that go to my elbows. This helps decrease my use of Band-Aids.

Maximize Your Laziness: Use your friends wisely. Start a friends’ gardening group. Learn to love volunteer plants (those that come up on their own) and permanently borrow plants from your friends and neighbors. Asking first is always a wise move. Divide and relocate perennials: no money spent, save on gasoline and no need to shop. Do any gardeners dislike shopping for new, different or more plants?

Lazy Maintenance Plants: Slow growers need less pruning. Wide spreaders mean fewer plants required. Drought tolerance requires less watering. Pest and disease-resistant plants need less lazy pest management.

Low demands and high returns include plumbago, beach sunflower, blue flag and walking iris, muhly grass, wiregrass, saltgrass, firebush and salvia. These are just a few. For more ideas, go to UF FFL and view a copy of “The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection and Landscape Design.” In the newest version, the key to information provided is on page 41.

Look for my suggestions on ‘Limitations to Lazy Gardening’ in an upcoming edition. Any day we don’t learn something is a missed opportunity day. To view and register for upcoming workshops, go to the ‘UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County’ calendar of events. If you are not a Hillsborough County resident, check your local UF/IFAS Extension office for educational opportunities.

Lynn Barber is the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ agent for UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County. Contact her at

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