Plant Less


by Guest Ranter Thomas Mickey

I see many people planting a garden, working a landscape, or putting
in a lawn. But that is only the beginning. It is the upkeep and maintenance
that form the essence  of gardening. And from what I see that is not
happening. People are too busy to take care of what they have in the
garden. The solution: plant less so you can take care of it, or plant what
needs a minimum of care.  The headache of garden maintenance can find

Thomas Mickey gardens in Rye, New Hampshire


  1. Definitely true Thomas – but sadly, I have a severe addiction. I cannot stop gardening! It has taken over my yard, my life, my soul… and it is half the fun to have at least a little mess in the madness, isn’t it?

    I’m kinda bored with perfect magazine gardens and say at least a messy gardener is still a gardener.


    Gotta love it!

    Shawna Coronado

  2. Hmmm. I guess to me “the headache of garden maintenance” IS gardening: the weeding, the pruning, the transplanting, all the “maintenance.” I just bought a little sign for my garden: “I live in the garden. I only sleep in the house.” That sums it up for me, and fortunately for my family and my budget, I live in zone 4.

  3. Who’s got the “headache” here?
    Is it the person who wanted all of the beauty of the plants, landscaping, ect. who doesn’t enjoy tending it and is fussing about getting what they wanted? Or is it the observer who is saying, “oh, you aren’t taking care of those plants the way I think you should therefore this is what you should and shouldn’t plant?
    Because a GARDENER enjoys tending, toiling, coaxing their garden on THEIR terms, in THEIR own good time, in THEIR OWN way and poppycock to those who would disagree!
    And that’s MY rant 🙂

  4. Decided long time ago to not fall into madness of having a perfect garden.
    I still have large pond, many plants and many flowers, still I spend maybe 1-2 hours weekly on maitenance.
    Garden is not home – nature rules, if garden with her rules all is much easier.

    Ewa in the Garden

  5. Unfortunately this is such true advice Thomas and I am one of those people who has to follow it. I am so limited with time right now mostly because of my unusual work schedules first working the night shift 11:00 pm to 7:00 am now 7:00am to 7:00 pm (12 hour shifts) by the time I get home I am so beat I usually am not able to see my garden till its my day off (days later). Then the family needs me for this and that…sigh. So until some changes come around I have no choice but to keep it minimal and plant only what can fend for its self for a few days at a time I for one find it too heart breaking to plant something only to see it die because I just didn’t have time to water it.

  6. Gardening is tinkering, I think. Some things work and some things don’t, However, I feel frustrated if I don’t like the way it looks. Sometimes I say “So what?” other times I address the challenge, like Powdery Mildew.

  7. I began with masses of perennials. BIG MISTAKE.

    Too expensive, relative to shrubs/groundcovers/trees, for the amount of space they take up.

    Too expensive in labor, relative to shrubs/groundcovers/trees, with dead-heading, dividing, cutting back.

    Perennials are aesthetic time bombs. Most are gone, gone, gone, gone, come winter.

    I UNGARDENED most of the perennials, which was most of my landscape. Keept only those taking care of themselves.

    Instead, shrubs/groundcovers/trees. Pretty all year, little labor, reduces heating/cooling cost, attractive to myriad insects/birds, increased property value.

    LAWN? NOT !!!! Realizing how much my lawn cost each year, $300.00, removed it and planted $300.00 of hydrangeas.

    PLANT LESS ?????

    Yeah, baby.

    Results? My landscape has been on TV, in magazines & books AFTER ungardening.

    This has been a 22yr process, DIY, with few funds but loads of passion.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara Dillard

  8. Brilliant……..This mind above all minds actaully knows how busy we are.
    I bet he ran O’Bamas tattle tale e-mail campaign. Then Mrs. O’Bama found out his garden was a mess and sent him home until his garden is clean.

    I understand he complained he was too busy “outing conservatives for the liberal cause” to clean his garden.

    Then Mrs. O having enough of his sort sent him on his way by telling him to “get the lead out”

    The TROLL

  9. “Less is more” is a tough switch for us addicts.

    Seeds, bulbs, annuals, perennials, natives, wildlife gardening, water features…oh, my.

    Last week I heard a talk that made me realize that my garden is not sustainable. I cannot sustain with the amount of daily work it requires.

  10. If my neighbors would showed any interest at all in their yards, I’d be thrilled. As it is, the developer plugged some plants in the ground, wrapped dripline @ their bases, and that was the last time anyone paid attention to them. Shrubs have never been trimmed, faulty sprinklers never adjusted – I’m fairly certain most couldn’t tell you how to set their irrigation timers. Most folks in the neighborhood pay someone to ‘garden’ for them, but all that really gets done is mowing & application of lawn chemicals. We’re the neighborhood weirdos because we know what’s in our yard & how to care for it. Organically, even.

  11. Gardening can be like having nirvana at your back door. Who cares what anyone else thinks?
    Thyme on My Hands author Eric Grissell writes about visiting Beverly Nichol’s garden. Outside of the fence his place was a mess.

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