Last month we ran a contest, asking for your favorite “Labor-Saving Garden Tips”. With all the great tips we received, choosing a winner was quite difficult and we appreciate everyone’s time in sending along favorite tips.
The winning tip is from Melissa Macker. The team selected this tip because we’ve all learned the hard way that proper soil preparation is essential and key to labor-saving in the garden. If you plant in poor soil, you’ll spend loads of time and effort for rest of the plant’s life just trying to get it to perform. Here’s what she suggested:
Soil prep can be very labor-intensive at first, but it saves a lot of time in the long run. In my new home I ripped out some old shrubs, hand tilled the top 6 inches of the bed (it was very compacted), pulled out a bunch of rocks, and tilled in some store-bought compost last fall. I planted pansies in it this winter, and planted some of the same pansies in a different bed without all the soil prep. I water them the same, I fertilize them the same. The pansies in the prepped bed are twice as large as the pansies in the regular bed with twice as many blooms–and the prepped bed is in full shade! The moral of the story–spend an afternoon giving your soil some extra TLC, and you’ll be rewarded with large, healthy, low-maintenance plants.
Other soil improving amendments could include home-made compost, peat moss, shredded leaves, well aged cow or horse manure and other organic matter (watch for an upcoming Your Easy Garden post on improving your soil).
You may want to visit Melissa’s blog- Garden on the Boulevard - for more inspiration. Melissa will be receiving 3 “Next Generation” Flower Carpet roses.
All of the other great tips and ideas will be included in two new posts later this week and we have another contest coming up, so stay tuned!
3 Labor-Saving Garden Tips
1) Mulch to Eliminate Weeds
One of the most obvious but oft-forgotten labor saving garden tips is MULCH! If you pull your weeds when they’re young (and small) and then mulch, mulch, mulch.
It’s best to make certain the ground is wet before applying mulch. Store -purchased mulch is great, but you can also other organic materials such as a thick layer of grass clippings; chopped up leaves; peat moss; straw; and pine needles around acid-loving plants like azaleas. A very thick layer of newspaper, wet down and covered with leaves, grass clippings or straw also works well. We even know one person who regularly collects the used coffee grounds from her local coffee shop on and uses those to mulch large portions of her garden.
Also, the more closely you place your plants together, the less likelihood you’ll have of weed infestations. And best of all, mulching also conserves water which means you have to water less!
2) Plant Your Vegetables close to the house
Vegetable gardens are often placed the furthest from the house to allow flower beds to be more easily enjoyed. However, if you plant a kitchen garden closer to your back door, you can just step out and pick your fresh salad greens, herbs, or even cucumbers and peppers. If you don’t have room for a full kitchen garden, you can easily add some of your vegetables to your flower beds. For instance, garlic planted around roses helps to keep beetles at bay while adding a bit of texture to the garden. Swiss Chard is available in a wide range of colors and looks lovely planted amongst perennials or annuals such as marigolds or cosmos.
3) Select Your Plants Wisely
Grow low-maintenance plants such as naturalized bulbs (daffodils,crocus, muscari, snowdrops); slow-growing shrubs that add color and texture but don’t need to be pruned often (spiraea, butterfly bush, viburnum, boxwood, Flower Carpet roses); perennials that don’t require a lot of deadheading (echinacea, phlox, lady’s mantel, agapanthus, rudbeckia, lireope), “plant and forget” annuals such as marigolds, alyssum, angelonia, and celosia). Select native plants because they’re more adapted to your environment and therefore take less effort to grow.
Ground-cover plants such as ajuga and English ivy take a while to establish, but once they do, they are an easy-care replacement for grassy areas – particularly areas that are hard to mow or reach with trimmers. Once established, the do not need much maintenance.
Win 3 Flower Carpet® roses!
Post a comment with your favorite “Labor-Saving” Garden Tip for a chance to win 3 easy-care Flower Carpet® roses (1 each of Flower Carpet ‘Amber’, Flower Carpet ‘Scarlet’ and Flower Carpet ‘Pink Supreme’). All entries must be received by February 28, 2013. The winner will be notified via email and bare-root plants will be shipped at a time that’s appropriate for your growing zone. Please note: apologies to our international friends, but we are not able to ship roses beyond the Continental US.
We look forward to hearing from you!