Our readers’ favorite gardening tips

During our recent Labor Saving Garden Tips contest, we received an abundance of helpful and unique tips from our readers and wanted to share some of those with our readers.  Whether you’re new to gardening or an experienced gardener, you’re sure to find something helpful here, and watch for future posts with more of our reader’s favorite tips!

Amelia Ball says that her favorite Labor saving tip is her kiddos! They learn about which plants are weeds and which are the plants to keep. They get exercise, fresh air and quality time with Mom! Plus those little hands are very helpful and save me a ton of extra work!   What a great way to teach children the joy of gardening Amelia!

Kids gardening

photo courtesy of Hawk Valley General Store and Gardens

Lori C sent us this tip and we particularly like the “enjoy” part of it. I made a similar point a while back in Early Morning Pottering.  My tip is to do little bits of garden work when you can. This way you can stay on top of it without seeming so overwhelmed. Deadhead, weed, water, mulch, pick & enjoy!

Donna DeVane’s tip deals with not only labor saving but also money saving!  I use leaves from the trees in my yard to mulch. We have quite a few trees and the leaves have to been cleaned up.. so.. why not use them to mulch the garden & flower beds? It also adds natural fertilizers to my soil. I don’t use chemicals and am always looking for natural ways to enhance my veggie & flower gardens. I also partner plant in my garden, getting more food in the same way.

Barbara Roan had an idea that none of the YEG team had ever heard of, but we certainly love: When I know a rain is coming I make my Peony bloom time last longer by putting beach umbrellas over each plant.  (Editor’s note – I’m heading to our local thrift store to buy up all their old umbrellas – what a great way to save your peonies because even those that are staked get droopy after a heavy rain.)

Peony bed

Inn at Ormsby Hill Peony Bed would be well protected from rain with Barbara Roan’s tip!

Susanna Griffin’s tip is a real time and labor saver and an excellent way to recycle old paper products. We’ve also found cardboard to be helpful for holding down weeds in spots like this.  Weeding is my ultimate enemy! I’ve been implementing raised beds since before they became popular. My clients biggest headache is trying to keep the Bermuda/witch grass from encroaching into the beds once they are fully functional.
I lay a very thick layer of shredded paper before any other amendments. It is readily available at local offices, schools, and they are thankful to get rid of it. The shredded paper allows for excellent drainage, decomposes so is environmentally friendly, and after 5 years the wild grasses are still not invasive. This is due in part to the fact that the paper acts as a natural weed barrier. If any perennial weeds make it to the top the roots systems are so weak they just pop right out and eventually give up. Keeping a thick layer of mulch on top not only helps with moisture retention, but also gives those pesky weeds something else to fight through.

Raised bed gardens save time and energy once they're finished.

Raised bed gardens save time and energy once they’re finished.

Maggie, a blogger had a number of great ideas for saving time and money. Check out her blog:  A Nantucket State of Mind

Have a neighborhood pick your own CSA with clear guidelines…then you earn extra $$$ and do less of the labor!

We have raised beds, but where we grow pumpkins and squash, we lay that thick, Tyvek-like weedblock between the rows….then we don’t worry about trying to keep up with the weeds under all those crazy vines (and there are a lot of them). It also prevents rot from pumpkins and squash laying in moist soil.

Mitzi Crawford had a bit of a challenge after dealing with her power company but it sounds like it worked out after all! I’d love these Carpet roses. I have a bank that has a few roses on it, but the cable company ran a line right thru my bank of 12 year old roses. My heart was broken cause 7 of my 13 plants were murdered by their machine. I got the power company to dump a big load of tree choppings on the end of my property right where I had a massive weed problem. That took care of those weeds. And 1 year later I had wonderfully aged mulch for all over my yard

Marie Simpson from Pineville sent us this tip plus an important warning and a helpful slug solution! Pine straw makes great mulch and since I live in a town called “Pineville”, it is easy to come by and free if you’re willing to collect it. But collecting it doesn’t come without hazards. Last year, my free pine straw came with free slugs that wreaked havoc on my delicate flowers. I got rid of most of them with beer (the cheap stuff) that I poured into small cups that I buried to the rims. Hundreds of slugs died each night in the beer (but they died happy)!

Pine straw mulch

Pine straw (pine needles) can be used as a mulch, particularly for acid-loving plants.

Sandee Rybacki sent us this tree-watering tip; I wish I knew about this before planting 3 new maple trees last year!  This is handy for any climate but especially ones with water restrictions.   When planting a tree, place a PVC pipe in ground beside tree toward the roots. That way when you water, it goes straight to the roots. Less water waste, more water to the tree, especially in summer.

Cathy Kerscher buys annuals that have low watering needs. They won’t suffer if a scheduled watering is missed.


Here are a few more practical weed-elimination tips . . .

Corrine says: I weed early, place preen down then mulch, also mixing in your mulch or soil, gel water pellets works too for less watering and less weeds!!

Shirley White suggests that we be very aggressive on removing grass & weeds from your gardening spots because small weeds are much easier to eliminate than large ones.

Rhonda Bonham suggests that we plant perennials and ground cover (to keep the weeds at bay). Use annuals for color in your perennial garden.


Well, we’ve run out of room but still have loads more tips and solutions to share with you, so check back later this month to find more tips and solutions from our contest entries! The next post will focus on Recyle-Reduce-Reuse tips, and the last one will be a mix of Practical Gardening Tips. In the meantime, if you have other labor-saving tips that you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them!







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