Garden Spaces: Plant the Easiest Garden Ever

When life intrudes on your hobby, try this garden plan to ease the workload.

  • Illustration by Gayle Ford
  • Click on the IMAGE GALLERY, then NEXT for the planting key.
    Illustration by Gayle Ford

• Design Plans: Grow These Plants for the Easiest Garden Ever

Even if gardening is one of our favorite things to do, sometimes life sends us scrambling in other directions. We all know the feeling of being pulled from all sides, when we just don’t have the time or energy to tend the big garden of our fantasies. Perhaps it’s a new baby or grandchild, or recuperation from surgery, illness or injury, or a new and demanding job. There are many reasons why even the most avid gardeners among us occasionally yearn for a small, manageable, no-fuss garden bed.

If you find yourself in that position, take a tip from the growing numbers of backyard veggie growers who use 4-by-4 or 4-by-8-foot wooden box frames for tidy, little raised beds. Simple to put together, they are the easiest kind of garden beds imaginable to maintain, and there’s no reason you can’t borrow that concept for a small, neat perennial herb bed. The simple frame sets off the bountiful look of the herbs beautifully, and when you sit at the edge, every plant and weed is within reach.

The herb garden shown here is designed to be attractive even with very little time and effort from the gardener. After setting it up and filling it with a good soil, you can choose tough herbs that will pretty much take care of themselves but still provide plenty of flowers to make it colorful and cheerful. Herbs can showcase their carefree nature in a bed like this.

The Prep Work

For a little garden that won’t suck time and energy from you throughout the growing season, spend the time and money necessary to get it set up properly, which will pay you back for years.

Choose a spot in full sun, or at least six hours of sunlight a day. If it’s in an obvious place—close by or somewhere that you walk past and see every day—all the better. For example, a front-yard lawn would be a fine place for beds like this, which would cut down on the endless mowing, feeding and watering that most lawns require. Because you’re raising the bed, you can build it right on top of the grass, which will be smothered and gradually break down to feed the roots of the plants in the bed above it.

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