“Chaos Gardening” Is the Low-Stakes, Low-Effort Hack You Need to Try This Weekend

published Jul 4, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Perennial flower bed with a predominance of purple in the garden and parks with bulbs on the street
Credit: beekeepx / Getty Images

I am, by my own admission, a pretty lazy gardener. While I love having a yard full of beautiful flowers and plants, I am not actually that interested in constantly tending to them. I’ll put the sweat equity into my veggie garden, which I plant in my raised garden bed every year, but the rest of the plants? You’re on your own, friends. 

That’s why I was immediately intrigued when I saw the term “chaos gardening” being thrown around on social media. By the sounds of it, this was a low-effort gardening method practically tailor-made for lazy gardeners like me.

The premise is simple: You gather a bunch of seeds (bonus points for native plants), mix them up, then toss them around your garden. That’s it! No planning, digging, organizing. No order. It is, in a word, chaos — and the results can be fabulous.

The first “chaos gardening” post I saw was from James Weston (@farmboyjames528), who uses the method to sow cover crops in his small plot. He says the various plants — beans, lentils, sunflowers, and more — help suppress weeds and feed the soil so his other veggies can thrive.

But the concept works great for more decorative plants, too. I loved this example from Amber (@karasumoongardens), who describes herself as a lazy gardener (my kind of girl!).

Native wildflowers are a perfect pick for chaos gardening, as they’ll thrive in your climate and you won’t have to worry about invasive species taking over. Many wildflowers don’t bloom their first summer, so sowing them now means you’ll see the fruits of your (minimal) labor next summer. 

Any annual flowers that bloom this year will re-seed, meaning they’ll essentially be planting themselves. A garden that does all the work for you? Sign me up.

Check out these tips for finding plants native to your area (and avoiding invasive species). If you want to go all-in with your native plants and ditch your lawn entirely, here’s our guide to growing prairie lawns