5 Fall Projects for the Lazivore Gardener

Fall is the perfect time to roll up your sleeves and get some work done.

Field of flowers at sunset, Germany
thethomsn / Getty Images

I've written before about my lazivore gardening tendencies, preferring to take it easy on myself and prioritize easy, labor-saving crops and techniques over maximizing yields at all costs.

As the summer winds down, those of us who like gardening, but don't like working too hard at it, might be tempted to kick back and forget about weeding and planting until the spring rolls around again.

That, however, may be a mistake.

The fact is that the fall is, in many ways, the perfect time to roll your sleeves up and get some actual work done. Here are some projects to get you started – and don't worry, you're unlikely to break a sweat doing any of them.

Plant a Fall Garden


If you live in a region where the summers get hot and humid, summer gardening – while productive – can be a real pain in the neck. From the constant watering and weeding to fighting off pests and humidity-related diseases, there's just so much to do that it can be hard to keep up. (Honestly, I kind of just give up by August and reap whatever I can without worrying too much.)

Fall gardens and overwintered crops, however, can be a breeze by contrast. From garlic to kale, many of the crops we grow in the cooler season are, by their very nature, hardier and less in need of TLC. The fact we tend to actually get some rain as the days get shorter too is also a big weight off the lazy gardener's mind. Check out Colleen's guide on what to plant in a fall garden for more specific inspiration.

Mulch Everything

pine straw mulch photo
 Sami Grover

It sometimes seems like every gardening post I write ends up evangelizing about mulch. The fact is that there can be few gardening techniques that are more important, or less labor-intensive. Whether or not you are planning to plant for the winter months, be sure to put everything to bed properly under a layer of biodegradable something-or-other. You've spent way too many valuable person-hours shoveling compost onto these beds to let it was away in a winter shower.

Plant Perennials

blueberries photo
 Tom Gill

Edible perennials are another of these themes that seem to run through most of my lazivore musings. From what I've learned from my gardening comrades at Bountiful Backyards here in NC, Fall is the perfect time to plant perennials like fruit trees and bushes. The cooler temperatures and plentiful rain mean there's plenty of time for the plants to get settled in before the hot, dry days of summer roll around again. And besides, it's much more pleasant digging a hole when it's not a hundred degrees outside.

Start a No-Dig Garden Bed

No Dig Making Beds photo

Many old-school gardeners I've met seem to scoff at the notion of a no-dig garden bed. Digging is, it seems, a right of passage you have to go through to "deserve" the bounty from your garden. Needless to say, that's always sounded like pious nonsense to me.

A no-dig garden bed, created from some cardboard layered over your lawn, smothered with compost, unrotted manure, or whatever organic matter you have lying around, and topped with a healthy dose of mulch, is just about as easy as it gets when it comes to starting a garden. Do that now, and by springtime, you should be well-positioned to start planting straight into the soft, friable earth you've just worked so hard to create. (Actually, you can even plant some of your fall garden crops right through the cardboard into the earth right now if you are feeling industrious.)

Read a Good Book

gardening books photo
 Sami Grover

The onset of fall and then winter is, of course, also a great time for one of my favorite lazivore gardening activities – curling up on the couch and reading about all the hard work that other gardeners do. If you're specifically looking for more guidance on low work, high-efficiency gardening however, check out some permaculture books like Patrick Whitefield's Earth Care Manual, or read up on Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening techniques. And if the idea of even reading a book sounds like too much hard work, you could always watch a dirty movie (as in, soil and gardening) instead.