Tips To Make Gardening Easier:
Choose Plants Wisely: Whether creating a perennial bed or an annual bed or a mixture of both, if your garden bed is sunny, choose plants that thrive in the sun – daylilies, coneflowers, phlox, daisies, wax begonias and petunias to name a few. For shady areas choose plants such as hostas, astilbes, impatiens and ferns. We have been using daylilies extensively throughout the village beds with much success. When in full bloom they are beautiful, but their bright green foliage is also attractive. Many new varieties will rebloom throughout the growing season.
Mulch: Spreading a 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch over your garden helps keep weed growth in check while holding moisture in the ground during the hot and dry dog days of summer. Organic mulches like compost or shredded bark actively improve your garden soil as they decompose.
Simplify Watering: Instead of hauling a sprinkler and hose all over your yard, lay soaker hoses under the mulch throughout your beds. Placing them under the mulch stops the water from evaporating and keeps the moisture near the plants roots where it is absorbed.
Weed: Even though we have mulched our beds, those weeds still seem to find a place to grow. Remove weeds when they are small – they are easier to pull and haven’t had a chance to go to seed and reproduce. I like to weed shortly after a rain; the invasive plants are easier to pull up – root and all. There is a product on the market called Preen which when applied and mixed in with your mulch helps stop the germination of weed seeds. I have used this product for the last several years with much success.
Edge Your Beds: Speaking of invasive plants in the garden bed, the last place we want grass to grow is in the garden bed. Installing edging between your beds and your lawn, stops grass from invading the beds. You can use expensive landscape stone or pavers or try less expensive plastic edging. To be effective, the edging material must extend down 6 inches so grass roots won’t find their way underneath.
Invest in Good Garden Tools: A shovel with an angled blade for digging soil and plants and for spreading mulch. A spade with a long handle is ideal for edging beds and slicing through the soil. A garden fork is handy to have for turning and aerating soil, especially our Menands clay soils. A hoe is used for cultivating and removing young weeds. A rake saves time when spreading mulch and leveling soil in a bed. The indispensable trowel – hand-held size – comes in handy for everything from planting to digging small weeds. Try out the tools in the store: see how they feel in your hand, whether you like a wooden handle or a rubberized one; a long handle or a short…keep the edges sharp and rust-free. Oh, and avoid the green or brown handled ones – you set them down while working in the garden and they easily become camouflaged in the greenery.