- You can improve your soil inexpensively by composting. Compost is the single best soil booster. However, creating and nurturing your own compost pile can be time consuming. If you don't want to start your own compost pile, you probably can get it from your city or town hall service department. Made from leaves and grass clippings, the compost may be free or at least reasonably priced for local residents.
- When looking for low-maintenance annuals, choose plants that do not require deadheading or very much irrigation. Some annuals drop their flowers naturally, whereas others put energy into seed production. Those seed capsules must be removed for continual bloom. Ageratum, alyssum, begonia, dusty miller, impatiens, and vinca are self-cleaning annuals; ageratum, marigold, ornamental peppers, portulaca, melampodium, and vinca are among the most drought-tolerant species. Prepare your soil well, using lots of compost, to increase the intervals between waterings and save on maintenance time.
Drought-tolerant marigolds don't require much
irrigation, saving you maintenance time.
- Save time next spring by preparing your garden before winter hits. When this year's plants have died from frost, cut them to the ground and, to prevent this year's pests from overwintering, remove all debris from the area. Have your soil tested now. Add lime if necessary, but wait until spring to fertilize. Cultivate organic matter into the soil and apply a fresh layer of mulch to prevent winter weeds from germinating. Your bed should be ready for spring planting.
- When looking for perennials that are easy to grow from seed, first ask yourself whether you want to sow the seeds indoors or out. You probably would like to grow perennials that will bloom in summer from an indoor planting in winter or at least bloom the following year. Seed size is often an indication of easiness to grow, because a large seed is easier to handle and has more food stored for the emerging plant. Some of the quickest and easiest perennials to sow are rudbeckia, columbine, butterfly weed, purple coneflower, chives, coreopsis, Shasta daisies, foxglove, yarrow, hollyhock, and sage. Daylilies, hosta, and iris also grow easily from seed but take a few years to reach flowering size.
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