Time-saving gardening secrets

Find out how to save loads of time in the long run and still have a gorgeous garden with these simple tips!

Time-saving gardening secrets

Prevent seedlings from burning

After months of babying your new seedlings, it can be discouraging if the sun burns them as they harden. So cover young plants with some old pots during the hottest time of the day. Once they grow a new set of leaves, they're able to handle the sun on their own — and you're not wasting money anymore.

Find recyclables

You can often find discarded newspaper tubes and posts for the taking at your recycling centre. Place them throughout the yard to store gardening tools and supplies. The tubes keep everything dry, and you will no longer have to carry around as much when you do your chores. The tubes can be painted any colour, so you can make them "pop" or camouflage them. Come spring, you may even find birds taking up residence in one, even raising a healthy, happy family.

Keep deer away

End the destructive dining of deer with old floor coverings — deer dislike the feel of strange textures underfoot. Use old throw rugs, discarded carpet remnants or old carpeting to surround your garden with a 48 to 72 inch (4- to 6-foot) wide path. When deer encounter the carpet, they seek their meals elsewhere. And once they get out of the habit of feeding on your plants, they're less likely to return!

Keep things handy

With a large yard, sometimes unexpected gardening jobs send you running back and forth to the tool shed. Carry items that you find very handy: a weed digger, scissors, pruners, a paintbrush for dusting off rock displays, a small bag of hose washers and a bundle of coloured yarn for tying plants. This will save you many needless trips.

Use garbage cans as rain collectors

During the summer, use these rain barrels to collect water for your flowers. They fill up almost all the way in just a few minutes after a brief shower. To make one, cut your downspout slightly higher than the height of your trash can. Then, using a utility knife, cut an opening into the lid of the can that accommodates the downspout.

Use good soil

Work in compost, manure or dried peat moss for nutrient-rich planting beds. Amended soil is lighter, drains well, makes for easy weeding and allows roots to establish themselves more quickly.

Mow less

Limit grassy areas to reduce time spent on lawn chores. Combine trees, shrubs, boulders and decorative mulches to fashion eye-catching, maintenance-free island beds.

Don't wear yourself out planting in shaded sites with poor soil

When you can't get anything to grow beneath trees or along fences, set up a multitiered container garden in the shady location. Plant shade-loving perennials and compact shrubs in appropriately sized containers; set the containers on stands in varying heights.

Fertilize less

Nourish gardens and containers with time-release fertilizers that continue feeding for long periods of time.

Prune wisely

Wait to prune evergreens, such as yews and boxwood, until they've produced most of their new growth. As a result, you won't have to prune them again until next year.

Start early

Divide and transplant hosta as soon as you see leaf tips breaking through the ground — since the stems and leaves have yet to unfurl, it'll be easy to cut the root-ball with a serrated knife. The planted divisions will leaf out beautifully in their new sites.

Let it be

Choose plant varieties that readily self-seed, such as corydalis, larkspur and purple coneflower, or that quickly naturalize, such as daffodils and daylilies, to fill out borders inexpensively.

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