Dandelions have underground roots
that can make them difficult to pull up.
The following tips are sure to make caring for your garden a bit easier.
- Watch the calendar and note the dates things need to be done in advance. This lets you encourage desirable plant growth and deter difficulties before they happen, thereby keeping your maintenance chores to a minimum.
- Pile dug-out earth on a tarp instead of on the grass when digging a hole for planting or excavating a garden pool. You can easily drag away any excess soil, and you won't have to rake up little clods trapped in the turf. Don't waste that soil. You can use it to build a waterfall beside the pool or to fill a raised bed for herbs or vegetables.
- Use wire grid supports instead of individual stakes to easily hold up bushy but floppy perennials such as peonies. You can buy commercial grid supports, which are handsome round or square grids neatly set on legs; green grids are more camouflaged amid the foliage than metallic grids. Or you can make your own grid supports out of a sheet of wire mesh, cut a little wider than the plant it will support. The extra length can be bent into legs.
The supporting process takes one simple step. Set the grid over a newly emerging perennial in spring. The stems will grow up though it, retaining their natural shape while staying firmly upright.The alternative (which occurs when you let the plant sprawl before staking it) is more difficult and less attractive. Corsetting the drooping limbs with twine and hoisting them up with a stake of wood can result in broken stems and a miserable-looking specimen.
- Use a sharp hoe to cut off weeds, especially annuals, instead of stooping and pulling them. Using a hoe is quicker and easier than hand-weeding, plus it does a superb job. If you catch weeds when they are young seedlings, a single swipe will be all it takes to eliminate them. If they are older, cut them down before they go to seed to prevent future generations of weeds.
- Perennial weeds such as dandelions may have large underground roots that will resprout after hoeing. You can keep hoeing in hopes of wearing them down. Or, as a faster alternative, when the soil is moist, use a corner of the hoe blade to dig down and help you loosen the root, then pull it up by hand.
- Use a lawn mower equipped with a bagger when you mow the grass and any fallen leaves in autumn. The mower will begin to shred up the leaves and mix them with the grass. This does twice the good of ordinary mowing: It saves you from raking, and the blended leaves and grass clippings are a dynamite combination for making compost. Empty the mower bag in an out-of-the-way place to make a compost pile. Use a garden fork to fluff the pile occasionally during winter, and you could have great compost by spring or summer.
- Grow a plant for at least two or three years before you decide to remove it. It can take that long for a perennial plant to get comfortable in a new home and begin to really show what it can do. Allowing a trial period of several years also lets the plant get beyond setbacks from difficult weather -- slow growth after an exceptionally cold winter or poor flowering during a long drought, for instance.
- Don't assume you can't grow a plant if it dies once. If you like that plant and are willing to buy another one, put it in a different place -- one better suited for its light and soil needs.
Caring for your garden can be an enjoyable experience, especially if you're armed with the handy tips outlined in this article.
Want more gardening tips? Try: