The Drawbacks of This Trendy Method
Chaos gardening is a horticulture trend that has gained popularity in recent years.
It involves mixing together all kinds of seeds and scattering them randomly across the soil, without any regard for spacing, rows, or compatibility.
The idea is to let nature take its course and see what grows. Though the idea sounds romantic and easy there are some things to consider.
Note: many photos in this article do not depict a Chaos garden. They are just of my garden in general.
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking a link I may make a small commission at no cost to you.
Chaos Gardening Definition
From my research, there are actually several definitions of Chaos Gardening and it seems they vary widely!
I have watched various viral videos and read numerous articles in my research and for the most part, the claim is Chaos gardening is a hands-off, no-work approach of spreading various seeds in an area, then sitting back and letting nature take its course.
Other articles say to prepare the soil but that is actual work and is not the free-wheeling experience embraced by the chaos gardening trend of no tending.
Can you see where the confusion comes in?
And to make matters worse the articles written have photos in them that in no way represent what a real Chaos Garden looks like. They have more of a Cottage Garden look to them.
Key Takeaways Here
- Chaos gardening is supposed to be a carefree way of planting seeds without a plan or order
- Folks claim that it is fun, surprising, and low-maintenance, but that therein lies the problem or negatives.
- Drawbacks of chaos gardening are poor crop yields, possible eating of toxic plants, weed invasion, the introduction of invasive species and it can get just plain ugly!
- Chaos gardening is not suitable for people who want a restful garden that is relaxing.
Some people find chaos gardening appealing because it supposed to be is easy (lazy), fun, and unpredictable.
Many enjoy the surprise of discovering new plants and flowers in their garden, and the diversity of colors and shapes. (you can get this from also curating where you plant seeds rather than randomly scattering them willy nilly)
They also like the idea that chaos gardening is supposed to be less work and maintenance than traditional gardening methods. (but is it really less work?)
Clearly, chaos gardening is not for everyone and is it really that easy?
Let’s discuss some negative aspects that may outweigh the benefits for many gardeners.
This next photo is about as close as I have ever gotten to a chaos garden.
Drawbacks of Chaos Gardening
Poor Crop Yield
If you are growing vegetables or fruits in your chaos garden, you may be disappointed by the results.
Chaos gardening does not guarantee that you will get a good harvest, or even any harvest at all. This is because:
- Some seeds may not germinate or grow well due to age, quality, or environmental factors
- Some plants will compete with each other for space, light, water, and nutrients, and reduce each other’s growth
- Various plants may grow shorter and be hard to spot in a large free seeded area thus you may not even realize you have veggies that are ready to harvest.
- If you are new to gardening would you recognize a carrot plant? So harvesting would be a mystery.
- If you grow Sweet Peas and Garden Peas in the same bed how do you know which one to pick for eating? (Ornamental sweet Pea seeds are toxic and should not be eaten)
I just want to be helpful here. If you are new to gardening and want to grow food in your garden, you are better off following the instructions on the seed packets and planting them in a more organized way.
This will increase your chances of getting a healthy and abundant crop and you will be able to identify what is growing and harvest something safe to eat.
Interesting note: From the videos and posts that claim to get a good harvest from chaos gardening they plant the entire packet of seeds and they look like new seeds.
Since most seed packets contain a lot of seed, if you planted an entire packet in cultivated beds you would also get a good harvest as you are improving the odds.
Also in several videos and articles I have seen, they scatter seeds over weedy, hard-packed ground that has not been cultivated at all.
This will end up with poorer results no matter what people claim.
Using this method you are relying on the abundance of seeds and many say you should scatter your unwanted or old seeds.
So what is the problem?
The problem is many who are embracing this trend have never gardened before. They will have to buy seeds and a lot of them. So really that isn’t saving money.
Another drawback of chaos gardening is that it can lead to weed invasion in your garden. This is because:
- Some seeds may be weeds that you do not want in your garden
- Some plants may become weeds if they grow too much or spread too far
- Some weeds may be hard to identify or distinguish from other plants in your Chaos garden (especially if you are a new gardener)
- Some weeds may be difficult to remove or control once they establish themselves in your garden
Weeds can be a nuisance in any garden, but especially in a Chaos garden.
They can compete with your desired plants for resources, reduce their growth and quality, and make your garden look messy and unattractive.
To prevent weed invasion in your Chaos garden, you may need to weed regularly.
So there goes the no maintenance claim and premise of Chaos gardening so now it isn’t really a Chaos garden!
The next disadvantage of chaos gardening is that it can create aesthetic issues in your garden. This is because:
- Some plants may not match well with each other in terms of color, shape, size, or texture
- Some plants may clash with the style or theme of your house or landscape
- Some plants may grow too tall or wide and block your view or access to other plants
- Some plants will die quickly after blooming without deadheading (maintenance again) and make your garden look like a weedy patch, depressing and unkempt.
Aesthetics are subjective and personal, but some people may find chaos gardening too chaotic for their taste.
They may prefer a more orderly and harmonious garden that reflects their personality and preferences.
Believe it or not, an orderly and harmonious garden isn’t as hard as many claim, it can be easier to attain than you think.
All the easy garden tips
Start an Easy Garden Today
Start an Easy Garden for Beginners is a step-by-step approach to a beautiful garden with less frustration and headache. Garden smarter not harder.
To improve the aesthetics of your Chaos garden, you may need to rearrange or remove some of the plants that do not fit well with your vision.
However, this can also takes away from the so called ‘no or low maintenance’ aspect many are seeking.
Chaos gardening is supposed to be a fun and easy way of gardening that can bring you joy and surprise.
However, it also has many drawbacks that may make you regret your decision.
Chaos gardening can result in poor crop yield, weed invasion, and aesthetic issues.
Before you try chaos gardening, you should weigh the pros and cons and decide if it is worth it for you.
You may also want to do some research and planning to try and make your chaos garden more successful and enjoyable.
For example, you can:
– Choose seeds that are suitable for your climate, soil, and sun exposure
– Mix seeds that are compatible or beneficial to each other, such as companion plants
– Avoid seeds that are invasive, poisonous, or illegal in your area
– Label your seeds or plants to keep track of what you have planted
– Add some features or decorations to enhance the beauty and functionality of your chaos garden
Chaos gardening is not for everyone, at least the way it is supposedly done so randomly. It may put many new gardeners off.
But if you are looking for a haphazard way of gardening, you may want to give it a try. You never know what you will get.
But be real in your expectations and if you find it isn’t what you expected don’t be dissuaded in growing a garden.
I got a laugh out of the opinions of a garden writer over on Garden Rant on this subject, give it a read.