Show Notes

Today, we discuss how to save time in your yard with tactics and practices.


  • Design and Establishment
    • Right Plants
    • “Low Maintenance” Plants
    • Proper planting
    • Plan for future
      • Growth – roots, branches
    • Plant gardens that only need work twice a year
      • com/2xgarden
      • Good fertility
      • Dense planting
      • Low maintenance plants
        • Wide range of conditions
      • Consider clover
        • Natural fertilizer
      • Plant a naturalized space – less work, rugged beauty
  • Maintenance
    • Increase time between maintenance routine
      • If weekly, try bi-weekly
    • Carve out larger chunks of time, less often
    • Mowing – cut higher, less often
      • Taller grass = more foliage = more photosynthesis = more energy = more roots = healthier grass
      • = fewer problems & slower growth
    • Stop fertilizing !
      • Chemical dependency

Links for today’s episode:

this is the aesthetic ecosystems podcast

I’m Ben Hale your virtual design guide

to help you and your family have a

healthy beautiful landscape with less

work what is up and welcome to episode 4

of the aesthetic ecosystems podcast

today we’re going to be talking about

time saving tactics for your yard so in

the past couple episodes we talked about

having the right mindset for a

low-maintenance landscape and also what

makes a low-maintenance landscape so

today we’re gonna get into the specifics

a few areas where you can really focus

on to save time in your landscape and

enjoy your life more fully that’s right

if your this is your first episode what

we’re talking about here is saving time

in your landscape and on yard work and

reducing the amount of stress and effort

you have to spend toward your yard work

you get all that time and all that

energy back to do something more

fulfilling with that time let’s do

something more fulfilling with your life

and if that sounds like a stretch then

you have to go and check out my free

giveaway how to save 27 hours of yard

work this season this free giveaway it

talks about just three simple habit

changes you can make in your typical

yard work routine and it can give you

back so much time and all that time can

be spent on doing something more

fulfilling whether it’s spending time

with your family or pursuing some sort

of passion or dream that you have or

just building your life or helping

others all of those things really can

make an impact and just the simple

changes that you can make in your

landscape can lead to something amazing

so let’s get right into it

I’m gonna split what we’re talking about

today into two specific areas first

design and establishment of landscapes

so if you’re working on a new project or

or maybe doing a complete overhaul of

your landscape or maybe you have a new

house you just moved into and and it

needs tons of work and you’re basically

starting from

from step one so we’re gonna talk about

what things you can do with that design

phase to really reduce long term

maintenance needs and then we’re gonna

go into just the maintenance area so

maybe you already have a yard that

you’ve you just want to make a change

with it and without completely

overhauling certain spaces or the whole

yard there are things you can do with

your yard to save time as well so in the

design establishment phase we’re gonna

be talking about having the right plants

low maintenance plants proper planting

planning for the future and maybe even

planning gardens that you only need to

work on them twice a year yeah it sounds

kind of crazy but you can do it I’m

considering options for your lawn as

well as naturalized spaces and what they

can do for you so with the design and

establishment phase having the right

plants can really make a huge impact we

kind of talked about this in episodes

two and three of what makes a

low-maintenance landscape the right

plants are basically plants that are

properly adapted to the conditions of

your garden so if you’re talking and

this could be to your lawn having the

right type of grass that you plant in

your lawn can make a huge difference in

whether or not it needs to have tons of

work of keeping up fertility or removing

disease problems or having the right

amount of water so selecting the right

type of grass for your yard is very

important so make sure you know what

right conditions there are whether it’s

for your lawn or for a garden that

you’re planning make sure you know

what’s what’s the amount of moisture

you’re getting in that specific space so

you can look at your average rainfall

per year and how it happens seasonally

so do you have tons and tons of rain in

one part of year and then it’s dry the

rest of the year or is it pretty well

spread out these can make huge

differences as to whether or not for one

the drought resistance of your plants to

whether or not they’re gonna have issues

with mold and mildew in wet seasons

things like that so you

need to make sure the plants are adapted

to the conditions so aside from water

you also have the right amount of

sunlight in your space the right amount

of the soil fertility all sorts of

things like that that you need to make

sure that the plant you’re considering

is adapted to that specific space and

when I’m talking about this specific

space there’s multiple factors that goes

into that there’s the the overall

climate of your area or your region so

this is your USDA hardiness zone if

you’re not familiar with that the the

USDA came out with this chart quite a

few years ago and essentially it breaks

out the specific regions of the United

States based on the how cold it gets in

the winters and whether plants can

survive that condition so some plant you

plant in Florida might not be able to

survive the winter in Ohio where I live

and vice versa you might have something

that thrives in Ohio with the colder

winters and the hot summers but with the

long hot summers in Florida it might not

have the right amount of heat resistance

or Sun resistance that something in Ohio

might have so it’s important to make

sure your plant is adapted to your

region based on that hardiness zone and

in other large climatic areas like that

so the general moisture of your region

but then also drilling down specifically

to the specific space you’re intending

to plant this plant so you might plant a

plant on one side of your house and it

does great and you might plant it the

same exact plant on the other side of

your house and does horribly and this

could be based on how much Sun it’s

getting how much heat it’s getting at

different times of year the moisture

level so the specific area of your yard

can make an impact too so make sure you

consider both the overall climate area

as well as the specific microclimate of

your space okay so that’s enough on the

right plants as far as the right

conditions also

consider potentially low-maintenance

plants and what I mean by

low-maintenance plants they’re plants

that don’t require a lot of resources

and inputs in general some plants are

really beautiful popular garden plants

but unfortunately they require a lot of

tending to keep either trimmed or well

fertilized or well fed and to keep

looking pretty so when you consider

plants think about the long-term

maintenance of this plant and whether

you know to keep an attractive plant

does it need trimming every year do you

need to prune it to keep it to a certain

size what sort of fertility did you

doesn’t need so it doesn’t require

fertilization every single season to

bloom or something like that and focus

on the plants that don’t require all

those inputs that just naturally once

they’re established they just take care

of themselves

and that’s really great when you’re

talking about a low-maintenance

landscape and wanting to save time so

now that we’ve selected the right plants

for your space as well as plants that

are low maintenance and don’t require

tons of inputs in the long term let’s

consider the right type of planting so

make sure you’re you’re establishing

your plant properly so it gets a good

footing in its new space and is able to

thrive once it’s well established now

I’m gonna be honest here when it comes

to planting and establishment this phase

is very important it’s kind of like like

raising a kid right the most intensive

part of the child’s life is the first

few months when it’s first learning to

grow be part of the world crawl all

sorts of things eat right all sorts of

things well a plant is the same way and

if you’re transplanting an already a

potted plant or something that’s already

been growing somewhere else it needs

that same nurturing and care in its new

space because essentially what you’ve

done is you’ve uprooted the plant you’ve

pulled its its foundation out right and

it’s most likely lost a lot of its roots

very small fibrous roots and and it’s

been growing in a specific condition and


placing it in your yard which is most

likely a very different soil condition

and it has fewer roots to keep growing

off of and it might not even be the

ideal time that you’re planting it so

properly taking care of that plant once

you put it in the ground is very

important for the first couple weeks to

even maybe a few months and once it’s

able to get started and take hold and

take root then it’s usually able to

thrive as long as you’ve selected the

right plant for the right place and all

that when it comes to proper planting

there’s a few specific things and and

based on the type of plant you’re

talking about there’s certain nuances

that that differ but in general what you

want to do is usually you want to plant

during the dormant phase of your plant

ideally now this doesn’t mean that you

can’t do it at other times but you just

might have less success or you might

have to take care of it a bit more so

for example for a small tree that you

might be transplanting from say a pot or

burlap or whatever the ideal time for

that is late fall

generally speaking through very early

spring before the buds open this is the

time when the upper growth of the tree

is dormant and if you plant it in late

fall the roots out will actually

continue to develop over the winter as

long as the ground is not frozen so this

gives the plant time to really establish

before that burst of growth during the

next growing season when it’s trying to

take off and compete with other things

around it making sure you take care of

the roots when you’re planting spreading

the roots out before you fill in the

hole and also making sure you’re

planting at the right depth where you

don’t want to plant below where the

plants is already growing because

especially for trees and shrubs this can

cause it quite a bit of damage and even

kill the plant potentially so there’s a

lot of other details but taking care of

the roots making sure you do it at the

right time of year and followed up by a

good watering sequence so make sure

you’re not depending upon the plant make

sure you’re giving the right amount of

water so this could mean if it’s a plant

that’s adapted to

low moisture conditions or average

moisture conditions don’t overwater it

and vice versa if it’s a plant that

requires a certain amount of water make

sure you’re giving it enough moisture at

a good frequency of deep watering to

help it get established and eventually

you you hopefully can kind of wean the

the plant off of the water so slowly

reduce the watering frequency and

quantity so the plant can begin to

establish on its own okay

enough about planting techniques the

next thing you want to do well hopefully

you do this before planting is plan for

the future growth of the plant I see

this happen all the time and it drives

me crazy driving down the street or

walking down through a neighborhood and

I see people plant trees especially

trees is where the biggest problem is

right underneath the power line or right

over an access point that is going it’s

inevitably going to cause problems in

the future when when this tree grows

bigger it needs to be trimmed through

the power line or even topped completely

cut off at the top and that’s just such

a difficult problem because if you had

planted that plant just in a slightly

different location it would be able to

grow freely similarly making sure you’re

spacing your plants properly for growth

a lot of times people I see it all the

time in new shopping centers where they

take these beautiful maples and they’ll

plant them at about ten foot spacing

well a maple tree once it matures it

grows upwards of seventy feet and with a

branch spread almost as wide and these

trees aren’t able to grow in such

proximity to each other so inevitably

what you have to do after a few years is

end up cutting down some of those

central trees to space them out so make

sure you plan for the future both with

the branches and also with the roots so

you don’t want to plant right in your

your leach field of your septic system

you don’t want to plant right over

underground wires or

in incoming gas or electric or water

lines because the roots will inevitably

disrupt that those utilities

similarly you don’t want to plant right

next to your driveway where the roots

are gonna grow underneath the driveway

and break up your concrete or also one

additional piece is your foundation a

lot of people love planting close to the

foundation it looks real nice

selecting the right plant to do that is

very important because if you select a

plant where the roots spread out they’re

going to attack your foundation it’s

going to cause problems either with

settling or with disruption of the

foundation itself so another cool thing

you can do is kind of reach a target

goal when you establish a new garden

space that it might only need work twice

a year how cool would that be right you

can just totally forget about it during

the peak summer when you’re just trying

to relax and not get too warm outside

and vice versa in the winter you can

just kind of leave it alone and it

actually looks nice at the same time so

when I mean twice a year you do it one

day in the fall one day in the spring

and that’s it you can totally leave it

go the rest of the year now it’s kind of

a stretch goal but it is possible and

there are certain factors to consider

here I actually have a a cool article on

this if you go to aesthetic ecosystems

calm / 2x garden that’s the number 2

letter X garden for twice a year garden

I talk all about this and it’s it’s some

really cool stuff to consider if you’re

considering planting a new garden or a

totally new yard definitely check it out

and I’ll have a link in the show notes

as well if you want to go there so some

tips real quick on this is make sure you

have good fertility when you establish

it because that fertility really helped

the plants you establish they’re right

when they’re getting adapted to the new

location that fertility will help them

really have a boost to develop roots get

anchored and start growing well without

any sort of issues with disease or

competition or anything else

dense plantings and while you’re you

know planning for mature growth of your

plants making sure you plant densely

enough to where there’s not massive

space in between for weed competition

but not over crowding them at the same

time where the plants are competing with

themselves in becoming weakened so

finding that right space where you have

plants that are covering most of the

area once they’re growing out and maybe

even consider some short-term plants in

between if there’s going to be too much

time for them to grow out and allow

space for weeds again going back to the

whole low maintenance plant concept when

it comes to a garden that you only want

to deal with twice a year you definitely

need low maintenance plants so these are

plants that are well adapted to your

region don’t require tons of fertility

long-term and are able to adapt to a

wide range of conditions so that’s a

wide range of soil conditions a wide

range of Sun conditions in a wide range

of moisture conditions specifically so

those are a few points as far as if you

want to have a garden that you take care

of twice a year again go check out more

at aesthetic ecosystems calm / 2x garden

or colliculi link in the show notes now

when it comes to your lawn

there’s this is gonna sound crazy

probably but I really want you to

consider it and that is consider clover

now a lot of people have spent the past

their lawns but before that is actually

a prized part of people’s lawns the

reason I’m suggesting clover for your

lawn is it’s a type of plant that fixes

nitrogen and if you are not familiar

with it essentially what it does is the

plant as it grows it produces nitrogen

in its roots through a process where it

interacts with bacteria it’s super cool

stuff I could probably spend like 20

minutes talking about it but I won’t so

essentially it produces its own

fertilizer nitrogen is a required

nutrient in the soil for plants to grow

and develop and so by fixing its own

nitrogen in the soil it takes care of


and when you’re growing it alongside of

your grass inevitably some of that

nitrogen escapes from the clover and

helps your grass grow so if you have a

beautiful lawn with interspersed bits of

clover through it can kind of loosely

spread out through it it actually will

help fertilize your lawn and keep it

greener and growing more healthfully and

more disease resistance so it’s kind of

you know a touchy subject for a lot of

people but I strongly can ask you to

consider it because of what it can do

for your lawn and how much time and can

save you during the maintenance routine

of your lawn one last bit here when

you’re considering establishing a garden

consider planting a naturalized space

this is becoming really popular on in

commercial landscapes where they can

look really beautiful even though

they’re kind of you know a little rugged

looking they actually are almost like a

breath of fresh air on your landscape

this is a space where it might be some

grasses kind of looking like a meadow or

a prairie or it could even be a you know

a loose tree planting or something that

is a semi natural landscape the great

thing about these landscapes is they

feel natural or they look natural and so

they are a great way to escape from the

clean cut landscape feel of typical

urban and suburban areas and they also

require very little work to maintain

there’s usually only if you’re talking

about a prairie planting there’s very

little you need to do occasional cutting

of it about once a year and over

multiple years you might be receding

over the top of it with a few plants to

maintain it but that’s generally it and

other than that it attracts tons of

wildlife so you get the beautiful sound

of birds in your garden space and it

kind of just leaves that space to go and

take care of itself and purr

a lot of beauty for you so really

consider that is there a space you

hardly touch in your landscape except

for when you have to mow it or weed it

or whatever that you could transition to

a more naturalized space that can

provide you a lot of beauty and save you

a ton of work at the same time so with

that let’s get into some some

maintenance tips and maybe you already

have your landscape established maybe

you inherited it or it is your landscape

that you built but now you’re really

looking at okay I’m spending too much

time in my landscape chores how can I

save that time with maintenance to free

up more time for myself we already

talked in previous episodes about having

the right mindset which really makes a

difference so I’m not going to touch too

much on that but I’m going to assume

that you’re making the priority that

your life is more important than your

yard work and while it seems foolish

again I just want to give a wake-up call

that I think when you say those words to

most people they would say oh yeah my

life is way more important than my yard

but then I see so many people messing up

their schedules in their priorities with

going to mow the lawn or pool weeds or

whatever and and I I really think our

actions are not in line with our

priorities so make sure your actions are

in line with your priorities and that

your prioritize in your life first and

your family first so a couple tips here

the first bit is to increase time

between your maintenance routines do you

really need to go out there and cut the

grass when you think you do

do you really need to go pull weeds when

you think you do maybe maybe you do but

most likely I’d be willing to bet if you

let your yard go another few days that

it wouldn’t be the end of the world and

so I suggest you just to try it and

spread things out just a little bit more

and what that does is you then have to

mow less frequently you have to pull

weeds less frequently and that little

stretch there can make a difference over

the long term so if you go and mow your

look yard weekly try it every two weeks

see what happens

I’ve done this experiment on our own

yard and yes there are times where

mowing every two weeks is just a little

too far out in your yard starts to look

a little too shaggy so you can’t always

do it I’ll be honest but think about the

times when your yards not growing like

gangbusters and maybe when it’s starting

to just pick up or starting to slow down

try and spread that mowing frequency out

a little bit more and same with your

weeding habits when it comes to your

maintenance routine consider carving out

larger blocks of time at a less frequent

basis so what I mean is if you go out

and maybe you spend like maybe an hour

to just kind of relaxing and pulling

weeds at the same time consider maybe

doing it in a longer chunk so it might

be a chunk of your weekend that you

don’t have plans but then do it less

frequently so by doing this you batch

out the chunk the type of work you’re

doing and you don’t have to do it as

often because you’re getting more done

at one time this allows you to get

momentum get focus and get it done and

then have it be out of the way for quite

some time

so consider batching out your work when

we’re talking about mowing specifically

we already talked about trying to

stretch out that time so do it a little

bit less often and what you can also do

is try mowing a little bit higher and

see what happens by mowing higher you’re

actually increasing the health of your


it seems little counterintuitive at

first maybe because we’re so used to

cutting a nice short lawn but think

about it grass is adapted from a prairie

plant and generally prairies grow at

three to six or even more feet high and

so the grass blades we have in our yard

when we’re cutting them at two to three

inches we’re really stunting the ability

of those grass plants that grow like

they naturally do now I’m not suggesting

you go let your lawn grow to 2 feet high

or anything but raise your mower

because when you have taller grass

there’s more foliage to your grass which

means more photosynthesis for your grass

blades this to in turn creates more

energy for the plant gives it more roots

which gives it healthier grass so

overall your grass plant becomes

healthier when you just raise the height

just a little bit it allows it instead

of being in a starvation phase when

you’re chopping all the the growth off

the grass is really struggling to grow

back so it can store up some energy and

thrive and so you’re allowing the top to

grow you’re allowing the roots to be a

little bit stronger this makes it more

disease resistance and surprisingly the

grass will go slower as well so because

the grass is happier with a little bit

more height

it also doesn’t feel like it has to grow

as fast to catch up and survive so it’s

less of a starvation and survival

response and more of a nurturing habit

when you raise the the height of your

mower so really interesting there you

might not like it but I really suggest

you give that a try and now I’m gonna

move on to one last bit here and this is

a really important one and again I’m

kind of pushing for a little bit of

change here for some of you and that’s

okay consider stop fertilizing your lawn

that might sound a little weird again

because hey if I’m fertilizing it I get

a bunch of green in my yard doesn’t that

mean it’s healthier well yes and no when

you give a bunch of sugar to a kid they

get a ton of energy right they grow they

are not crow but they run around like

crazy they do all sorts of crazy stuff

but then they crash right then

they’re done they’re toast they get that

get all crazy and whiny and stuff I

don’t know this from experience of

course but fertilizer is similar to

sugar for a kid so it really gives us

quick burst of energy it makes the grass

feel healthy for a short bit of time

crows like crazy it turns bright green

but then it needs it more and more and

more so it’s like an addiction piece it

gives it this this burst of growth but

then it needs it again and again and

again and again and so this chemical

dependency actually is bad for the plant

it reduces its root growth and why you

get a ton of foliage with the reduced

root growth the plant is less healthy

because it can’t support the rate of

growth of the foliage top and so you end

up with a weakened plant that’s more

disease prone and less healthy overall

and I don’t want that for your yard I’m

sure you don’t want either when you hear

what it actually does and so there are a

lot of other options as far as getting

healthy grass the first is again cutting

it a little bit higher so your plant is

a bit healthier to begin with in

addition if you really do need some

nutrients for your soil consider some

more organic options like compost

compost especially when you mix it a

little bit with some topsoil and

spreading that out in your yard maybe

you know over a course of a few years

you might do it twice a year and it will

really make a huge difference in the

health of your lawn

so consider some healthier options for

your yard and try and cut the chemical

dependency because while it’s not only

healthy for your grass it’s not healthy

for you as well that’s why when you put

stuff down in your lawn they see you

know all the professionals they put down

those signs that have the weird circle

with the person and the dog in it

because it’s not healthy for you it’s

not healthy for your kids it’s not

healthy for your pets and it’s not

healthy for your grass so consider aside

from the health reason also for just the

maintenance reason consider stopping

using chemical fertilizers and using

some if you need to use something some

healthier options that actually support

the health of your grass and the soil

beneath it so that’s going to wrap it up

for today with the maintenance routine

as well as the design and

stablishment routine when you consider

time-saving tactics for your yard again

real quick when you’re talking about

design considering the right plants for

your space and considering

low-maintenance plants when you’re

designing a garden using the right

planting techniques to really give it a

good start planning for the future

growth of your plants planting gardens

that potentially only need work twice a

year considering using clover in your

lawn to self fertilize it in planting a

naturalized space that really takes a

resource drain type of space where maybe

you’re maintaining it but you don’t ever

use it well transition it to something

that is maybe more naturalized that can

take care of itself covers a good amount

of space in your yard and looks really

beautiful at the same time when it comes

to maintenance try increasing the time

between your maintenance routine so you

don’t have to do it as often also when

you do work on your yard try to do it in

more sizable chunks and then less

frequently so you’re getting more done

at once and then you can wait longer

when you’re mowing while you’re doing it

less often also try cutting higher a

little bit and increasing the health of

your lawn and to finish up consider stop

fertilizing your lawn with chemicals so

you’re not decreasing the health of your

grass and instead use something that

would increase the health of it so

that’s it for today guys make sure you

go over to the show notes for any of the

links I talked about today if you want

to save time right now on your yard

consider going to aesthetic ecosystems

calm slash to seven hours that’s to 7

hrs and get a free guide to help you

save 27 hours in your yard just through

simple habit changes ok now it’s time to

talk about the launch party guys excuse

me not party but partay the launch

partay is for the first two months of

the show from March 11th through May

to help spread a war spread the word

about the show I really appreciate your

enthusiasm and interest in this show and

I want to get you guys involved and have

some fun while we’re doing it so this is

a chance to have some fun too for us to

get connected to win some prizes and

let’s talk about the prizes before we

talk about what we’re doing so what are

the prizes weakly I’m offering a free

consultation with me Ben Hale which is

normally a $99 value so one person each

week that gets involved in the launch

partay gets a free consultation I’m also

giving away a free offer for one of my

ebooks ten ways to get more beauty with

less work which is the $19 value next

the grand prize there is only one of

these were giving away through this

whole launch party so at the end of the

launch partay the organic lawn care

manual by Paul Tookie

so Paul Tookie himself has offered to

give away one free book to a lucky

winner that’s getting involved in this

launch party and this book is all about

how to manage a healthy lawn from

anything from a golf course style on to

your low-maintenance lawn which of

course is something I prefer here on

this show right

I own this book I’ve read this book

multiple times I’ve given it away it’s a

kind of a tattered and worn version that

I have and I used some of these

practices in my own line so I love this

book and I highly promoted as well and

you’ll hear me talk about it throughout

the show but Paul Tookie has been kind

enough to offer a copy of his book as a

grand prize and there’s also a special

surprise for everybody that’s going to

be getting involved in the launch partay

the rolling river nursery out of

California has offered a special

surprise for everybody that’s involved

the rolling river nursery is a USDA

certified organic nursery so I went

online and I looked around for nurseries

that have online availability ship

through the continental US and have some

great offerings and rolling River

nursery is being kind enough to become

involved with our launch party and

they’re not only are they online

availability but they also are certified

organic which means they don’t use any

harmful herbicide

or pesticides that you have to be

concerned with your family about and so

what you’re getting is a safe and

healthy plant they also offer a ton of

edible plants and trees and shrubs cacti

and succulents so they offer several

trees and shrubs that are adaptable

throughout the most of the United States

so definitely worth checking them out

and in addition these guys are also

involved with a nonprofit in Southern

California to help local food movements

called planting justice org so if you

want to learn more about them you can go

to rolling River nursery calm and I also

want to give a shout out to Paul to Kies

website for his organic lawn care manual

and his other works is Paul to keep calm

PA UL t uke why and to sum up guys okay

you want to learn how to get involved

with this launch party go over to

aesthetic ecosystems calm slash pod

launch and that’s P o dl a un c– h

there’s a link in the show notes and

that’s that’s going to give you all the

instructions on how to get involved

there’s two ways specifically to get

involved one is through sharing with

your peeps on Facebook and the other is

through leaving a review on iTunes

both of these are gonna help spread the

word about the show and get other people

other friends listening to it as well

and I sure appreciate your help here and

likewise this is gonna be a fun time so

uh so going over and – ascetic

ecosystems comm slash pod launch to get

involved as always thanks for tuning in

and make sure you live with passion and

make tomorrow better than today