It can sometimes be hard to find the time for gardening, particularly if you work long hours or look after children.


However, this doesn't mean you can't have a beautiful and productive garden. The tips and tricks outlined below will help you to create low-maintenance but high-impact displays.

If you're looking for quick and easy garden projects, try a spring pot for quick colour, a container display for full sun or one for a shady spot.

As for edible crops, you can still enjoy delicious, fresh crops from the garden with minimum effort – find out more about low-maintenance veg and fruit plants.

Check out our tips for time-poor gardeners, below.

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Grow pots of salad

Salad leaves are one of the quickest and easiest container crops to grow. A sprinkling of seeds onto the surface of some compost and a generous glug of water is all it takes to have fresh leaves in a matter of weeks. Keep sowing for continued harvests. Find out how to grow salad in a container.

Growing salad leaves and chives in an old sink
Salad leaves and chives growing in an old sink

Grow self-seeders

Self-seeding plants save you the time and effort of sowing the seed yourself. Some plants are better than others at this, including aquilegias and forget-me-nots. Plants growing in the wrong place can be pulled up and others can be left to get on with it. Discover eight of the best self-seeders.

Aquilegia vulgaris long spurred
A long-spurred, red and white aquilegia

Choose reliable plants

Some of the best plants for time-poor gardeners are those that require little maintenance and have a long flowering season, including Erysimum 'Bowles's Mauve' and crab apples. For more ideas, browse our pick of reliable flowers, shrubs and trees.

Erysimum Bowles's Mauve
Mauve wallflowers in a border

Grow evergreens

Evergreen plants will ensure the garden remains colourful all year round. As they don't die back each year, there are no leaves to clear up or foliage to cut back. Browse the huge variety of evergreen plants on our Plant Finder.

Evergreen trees: strawberry tree, Arbutus unedo
Bumpy, lime-green fruit on a strawberry tree

Grow vigorous plants

Vigorous plants need little encouragement to get going and will happily romp away with little effort. If you're worried about them spreading too far, grow them in pots and containers. This is a good tip for plants like mint and lemon balm that can spread rapidly if grown in the ground. Discover lots of fast-growing plants.

Mint varieties growing in pots
Mint varieties growing in pots

Think about lawn alternatives

Wildflower turf or plugs are a good low-maintenance option for a lawn. The result will be a pretty mini-meadow with different habitats for wildlife and flowers for pollinators. Follow the advice in this step-by-step guide to laying wildflower turf.

Mini meadow with ox-eye daisies and grasses
Ox-eye daisies and grasses in a wildflower lawn

Focus on the most important jobs

If you only have time to do a few things, make sure you pick the most important tasks. A quick round of deadheading will keep blooms coming, while watering plants growing in pots and containers will stop you losing plants completely. You could also consider growing drought-tolerant plants that can go a bit longer without water.

Watering heucheras
Watering a red heuchera with a watering can

Scale it down

Small areas are much easier to manage, so try planting up pots, containers and window boxes for some colour. Bedding plants are a quick win but keep in mind that most won't survive over winter, so will need replacing each year. Instead, try some of these perennials for containers.

Lavender growing in containers
Lavender growing in terracotta pots

Plant plenty of bulbs

There are lots of bulbs that will reliably come back year after year, with no help required. They're much quicker to plant than potted plants and can be grown in the ground or in containers. Some bulbs, like tulip cultivars, often don't last long, so go for reliable flowers like snowdrops, daffodils, anemones and alliums.

Daffodil bulbs ready to be buried
Daffodil bulbs ready to be buried

Grow ground cover plants

Ground cover plants are particularly useful if you have large areas to fill but little time to add the plants and maintain them. Steer away from the car park plants and go for these ground cover plants for sun and ground cover plants for shade, such as lily of the valley (pictured, below).

Ground cover plant lily of the valley
Delicate, bell-shaped white flowers of lily of the valley

Overrun with weeds?

If you're overrun with weeds but don't have the time to tackle them, you could try spreading black plastic over the areas not in use. It's quick and effective on large areas – the plastic will smother and kill weeds growing underneath.