I realize that I diminish the effort required to maintain this acre and a quarter garden, but I intend to counter writings I regularly see that add long monthly lists of garden chores to already busy lives. My weekends are occupied by long hikes in our nearby mountains, not by hours of labor in the garden.
Most importantly, the homeowner must not avoid planting, fearful that new plantings will fail to survive. Yes, a plant will perish on occasion, and even plantings from earlier decades will occasionally decline and die. But, these are exceptions, and after a period of weeks little care is required for most new plants.
When I kill something it is nearly always due to a lack of attention soon after planting. New plants require water, which I often neglect in my insistence that nature will take care of this for me. If I can plant just before a soaking rain I rarely need to follow up, but a several week period without substantial rainfall this spring reminded me that occasionally I must unwind the hose.
And, what about weeding? Yes, I have weeds that are regularly plucked as I roam the garden every evening, but this is two minutes here and there and not hours. The spring clean up is a big deal, spread over a weekend or two, but afterwards weeding is accomplished in short spurts of labor.
The key is more planting, mimicking nature, covering as much bare ground as possible with plants and not mulch that limits weeds but decays to create a wonderful medium for weed growth. Ideally, a ground covering layer is planted beneath trees or shrubs. This layer can be hellebores or sedums, or hundreds of other choices that limit weed growth. The more ground that is covered, the fewer weeds, and while it is likely I’ll never eliminate weeds completely, this garden is now maintained with a minimum of effort on my daily strolls enjoying delightful flowers and foliage.
So yes, I exaggerate the ease by which this garden is maintained, but when plants are placed where they will thrive, maintained for a short period, and planting areas are well covered, the garden provides considerable benefit with minimal effort.