As much as I love playing in the dirt and growing flowers and vegetables, I’ve been searching for ways to keep gardening simple. Like every other area of life, it’s easy to let gardening take up too much time, and then it begins to be more of a duty than a pleasure. By simplifying gardening tasks, I can enjoy my green time—and have plenty of time for other areas of life, too.

Have a Plan

Before you begin buying supplies and planting flowers, be sure to make a plan. What is your goal? Do you want to grow food for your family? Are you trying to attract pollinators to your yard? Do you want more color in your front yard? If you have a number of different goals, tackle them one at a time so you won’t get overwhelmed.

Know Your Budget

It’s easy to spend hundreds of dollars on garden supplies if you aren’t careful. If you have an unlimited budget, fantastic. But if you don’t, take a little time to consider your plan before you go to the garden store. Make a shopping list and stick to it, so you don’t start buying every bulb, seed, and plant in your gardening center.

Time for Upkeep

Before you plant, consider how much time you have to devote to gardening. Remember that everything you plant will require some upkeep. Plants and bushes need to be pruned. Flowers need to be dead headed. Vegetables need to be picked and cooked. Your garden will need to be weeded, mulched, raked, and put to bed in the winter. Access how much time these tasks are likely to take along with the regular yard maintenance you already do, and plant your garden accordingly.

Take Shortcuts

There are many shortcuts you can take to save time. A heavy layer of mulch will minimize weeds, for example. Planting in containers is another big time saver because you won’t need to dig up the ground, weed regularly, or worry about dividing plants. Just plant the annuals that you want to grow each year, and then empty the pots at the end of the growing season. Installing a simple watering system will save you hours of watering time. Ask the experts at your gardening store for their time-saving tips.

Enjoy Your Garden

Be sure to savor the (literal) fruits of your labors. Cook your favorite meal using vegetables you’ve grown yourself. Place a vase of cut flowers on your nightstand or on your desk. Enjoy an hour or two reading under your favorite fruit tree, or napping on a lounge chair. Invite friends over for tea in the garden. Take a break from the busyness to enjoy the results.