No dig gardening – lazy or genius?

Garden Center Overstrand

If you keep up to date with all things gardening, you may already be familiar with the name Charles Dowding.

Charles is well known within the horticultural circuit and has been leading us towards the notion of no dig gardening since 1982.

However, for a long time many garden experts have dismissed the notion of no dig gardening as nonsense or lazy, but with the rise of sustainable gardening it seems that no dig is rising in popularity.


What is no dig gardening?

No dig gardening, as its name suggests, involves leaving the soil undisturbed.

When soil is left alone, amazing things happen, even if we can’t see it all on the surface!

Your soil, particularly if it is good quality, is already full of organisms that encourage plant growth. Earthworms, insects and fungal threads all help to support growth. The fungi in particular has an impact on plant growth, and this fungi is at its prime when it is left undisturbed.

By not digging and disturbing these important elements within your soil, you will see strong growth in the no dig areas as your newly structured soil will start to look after itself.


What are the benefits of a no dig garden?

  • Thanks to a no fuss approach it is easy to maintain and timesaving.
  • It is eco-friendly as no weedkillers or pesticides will be used in this method.
  • There are naturally less slugs, as when the ground is turned, alcohol is produced between layers. With less alcohol comes less slugs!
  • You will experience a drop in the amount of weeds, as healthy soil doesn’t need the benefits that weeds bring.
  • You will use less compost, as the soil will generate its own nutrients. 


Will I still get weeds with a no dig garden?

As your soil strengthens weeds will naturally reduce, as they will not be needed by the healthy soil. This will reduce your reliance on weedkillers and minimise the time spent on the less favourable aspects of gardening!


What do I need to get started?

When starting out, the main thing you will need is mulch. A thick layer should be laid down to suppress weeds and protect the roots of the plants. It will also give a nice neat finish to your soil.

Compost is a good option for mulch when starting a no dig garden in the UK, as in damp climates it does not encourage slugs. Compost mulches also act as a powerful source of food for your soil too.


How long will it take for no dig gardening to work? 

Be patient. It will take time to see the benefits and the reduction in weeds.

Perennials can take up to a year to die and those hard to get rid of weeds, such as Marestail may not ever completely diminish, although you can expect them to weaken considerably and become easier to remove. That said you will see the back of annual weeds in as little as 2 months.

Once your ground has settled however, you will begin to reap the rewards for years to come, with an easy to maintain garden fit for growing the very best organic vegetables.


Are you interested in trying no dig gardening?

If you are interested in starting a no dig or eco garden, why not pop on and talk to one of our members of staff. We would be happy to offer you some friendly advice to help get you underway.

Alternatively, for more information about the benefits and getting started with no dig gardening, head over to

If you do try this method, we would love to see your photos and hear your updates. Connect with us via our Facebook page and we may even share your photos!