The secret to good gardening is timing. My advice to those who feel overwhelmed by the work that needs to be done in their gardens is to start by making a list. Just as the secret to cooking a holiday meal for a big family gathering requires some planning and a good grocery list, so too does a successful garden.
The trick to keeping your garden looking good is to get a jump on the maintenance early in the season rather than trying to catch up later on. Here are a few tips to help you get ahead of things this spring.
1. Weed all your beds early. Weeds in general can be divided into two groups: cool season weeds and warm season weeds. Cool season weeds are already in full swing. Devote time to removing them early before they set seed and you will have less work in the future.
2. After beds are weeded either keep the soil cultivated on a regular basis to prevent new seed from germinating (a few minutes of cultivating the soil each week will save hours of weed pulling later on) or apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch as soon as the weeding is done.
3. Cut a 3- to 4-inch edge into garden beds surrounded by lawn. Providing a sharp, deep edge will keep grass from infiltrating into your beds and save you hours of weeding later in the season. It also makes your gardens look neater.
4. Apply fertilizer now to perennials while plants are still emerging but not yet fully grown. Place the fertilizer around the base of each plant where it is needed. Applying it early makes the job easier and much more efficient. I prefer to use organic fertilizers so I don't have to worry about burning tender new growth.
5. Weed your vegetable garden early in the season before turning the soil over. This will keep weed seed from being dispersed into the soil. This is especially helpful for cool season weeds that set seed very early.
6. Apply aged manure or compost to your vegetable garden before turning the soil over. This makes it easier to see how much you have applied (especially with manure).
7. Plant perennials as early as possible. Even if they don't look like much when you purchase them, they will establish much better in cool weather than they will later in the season. The same holds true for transplanting and dividing perennials; those done earlier will look better later.
8. When buying plants from the garden center, bigger is not always better. Look for sturdy young plants that are not pot bound. Avoid buying annuals that already have flowers. They will take longer to get established. If you have no choice, then cut off the flowers when you plant them so the plants put their energy into establishing roots.
9. In beds with stubborn weeds, put a layer of newspaper down then mulch over the top. The newspaper will help smother the weeds, preventing them from growing up through the mulch. Over time the newspaper will rot away. This is also a good tip for creating new beds in grassy areas. Apply the newspaper and mulch several months prior to planting.
10. Repair dead spots in lawns early by removing debris, scratching soil and applying seed while temperatures are still cool and there is adequate moisture in the ground. Grass seed will establish faster before hot weather arrives.
These tips may not eliminate my spring garden chores completely, but they help me from falling behind early in the season.
Available at Amazon.com:
- How to Cut Your Air-Conditioning Costs
- Moving Day: 10 Ways to Take the Stress Out of Packing
- Feeling Overwhelmed by Garden Tasks? Make a List and Get to Work
- Time to Make Habitat for Returning Birds
- Create A Girl's Bedroom Fit For A Princess
- How Feng Shui Can Improve Your Life
- How Does Your Garden Grow?
- Go Green and Improve Happiness
- New Uses for Old Things: Household Odds and Ends
- Homeowner Savings Tips: What You Might Not Know
- Sure-to-Please Home Decorating Ideas
- Planting Strawberry Jars for Spring Color
- 5 Elements Guarantee a Perfect Outdoor Living Area
- Paint Your Kitchen 'Green' With These Eco-friendly Tips
- Trends in Painting: Is Faux Over?
- How to Have a Gorgeous and Organized Kitchen
- Shovel-Ready Project: Dividing Your Perennials
- Can Clutter Make You Sick?
- A Rose Is a Rose Is an Heirloom Rose
- Banquette Seating Makes For Cozy and Comfy Dining
- Controlling Dust in the Home Is a Never-Ending Task
- Fireplace Facelift Not a Job for the Faint of Heart
- Gorgeous and Glamorous Gray Goes the Distance
- Easy Eco-friendly Spring-cleaning
- 30 Top-To-Bottom Spring Cleaning Tips
- Too Cold to Plant? You Can Still Get Ahead of Garden Maintenance
- Area Rugs to the Rescue
- Rarin' to Get Planting? Here's What You Can Do Now
- Freshen Up Your House Whole House For Spring
- Don't Overlook Bulbs of Summer; Now Is Time to Plan Planting
- Time to Ready Your Backyard for Return of Avian Tenants
- You Can Pick Up Furniture Bargains In Unexpected Ways
- No Room for a Cellar? Create a Wine Closet
- Greener Living 101
- 5 Cheap and Easy Decorating Ideas
- Spring-cleaning Checklist for Your Health and Your House
- Teen Decor That Puts the Cool in School
- Late Winter Is Time for Pruning and Forcing
- Key to Extraordinary Garden: Starting Your Own Seeds
- Barclay Butera: Create Modern Rooms Simply By Changing the Walls
- Four Common Eco-mistakes
- Are Vinyl Shower Curtains Safe?
- Where to Save and Where to Spend on Interior Decorating
- Wanna Get Away? Tropical Plants Can Help
- 10 Sneaky Ways to Get Organized
- A Better Load of Laundry
- Everyday Chores Get Greener
- Soothe Winter's Chill With a Steam Shower
- Houseplants Add Life to Your Winter
- Is Your Bedroom Decor Keeping You up?
- Seed Catalogs Trumpet the Promise of Spring
- Turning Down the Thermostat? Your Cyclamen Will Thank You
- A Room With a View: Clever Decorating Can Improve Your Vista
- Get Your Kitchen Drawers Organized Once and For All
- 10 New Year's Resolutions For Your Living Space
- Fantastic Faux Finishes
- Evergreens Add Color: Interest in Otherwise Dull Winter Landscape
- What to Do in a Frozen Pipe Emergency
- In Cold Climates, Go Deep With Rigid Foam Insulation
- Getting the Most Out of Your Garage Flooring
- Falling Short on Christmas Decorating? Try These Last-Minute Tricks
- Stay Toasty and Save Energy This Winter
- Give Your Office a Boost
- Ease Stress With These 10 Holiday Home Time Savers
- Mirrors: A Decorative Reflection
- Granite Tile Instead of Slab for Countertop
- Cut Your Carbon Footprint and Save Money With New Gadgets
- Amaryllis: Bright Blooms for Winter
- Restock Your Kitchen With Holiday Bargains
- Winter Bedding Tips to Help You Sleep Better
- Flash From the Past: Growing Begonias Indoors
- How to Install a Ceramic-tile Backsplash
- 7 Inventive Ways to Redeck Your Halls
- 6 No-brainer Time-savers
Copyright © 2011 SEAN CONWAY. DISTRIBUTED BY Tribune Media Services