We’ve partnered with gardening guru Steve Asbell from The Rainforest Garden to share his favorite ways to spruce up your garden without spending a lot of time or money.
I’ll admit, I’m a cheap and lazy gardener. I just feel like the more money I save, the more I can spend on cool stuff like plants and rocks for my garden. I also like to speed through tasks like weedeating, carrying heavy objects and watering plants so that I can get around to relaxing and doing the fun stuff sooner. Here are just a few of the workarounds I’ve found to make gardening easier.
A Fast Alternative to the String Trimmer
I have a great string trimmer that easily breezes through tasks like edging and weed whacking, but I honestly don’t really feel like cranking it up every time I mow. When I used an electric string trimmer, I whined about having to drag a tangled extension cord through my garden just to weakly slap at the weeds with neon plastic string until they gave up. When the electric trimmer’s motor died and I got a decent gas-powered model, I still found myself skipping out on my duties. The electric trimmer had the following annoyances as well, but it’s still noisy enough to wake my son from his nap, which is unfortunate since that’s usually the only time I’m able to do yard work. And then there’s the debris, scattering all over the driveway, sidewalk, car and my clothes. I know that those are just excuses, but that’s okay. Sometimes laziness leads to finding better ways to do stuff.
Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the humble hedge shears and their unlocked potential. I’ve found that in the time it takes for me to fill that heavy string trimmer up with gas and get it running at full speed, I can easily trim the grass around my mailbox, utility boxes and plantings — and be inside for a shower and a glass of water. Not that I’d even need the shower at that point; I wouldn’t break a sweat and there’d be no weed-eating debris plastered to my skin. Heck, I might even start taking the grass shears with me whenever I get the mail.
Stop Lifting Plants and Heavy Objects
I have these big ceramic planters on our front porch (stoop, really), planted with a beautiful grouping of shade-loving plants: Mahonia, cast iron plant, mondo grass, mistletoe cactus and geranium. But then the seasons changed and the Northeast-facing door that was shady in winter is now baking in the intense afternoon sun of summer. It’s funny how seasons work! Those plants are now getting sunburned and the potting mix seems to dry out daily, but the pots are really too heavy and wide to carry without throwing out my back.
The solution was a cast iron plant roller that now allows me to move the heavy pots through the house to the backyard, where I can let the plants recuperate in a shady area. There are other, less obvious, ways to use a wheeled plant stand. Place a piece of plywood on one or two of the rollers to create a steady base and move other moderately heavy objects like pavers and bags of topsoil. Place a paint bucket on the rollers and fill it with anything else that you’d rather not lift — from weeds and dirt to rocks and gravel.
Water Plants the Right Way
Those aforementioned planters also had to endure another set of abuses, the poor things. In addition to heat and blazing sun, they were subjected to some really rough watering. I first used a nozzle-less garden hose to douse them with water, pummeling the plants and soil while spraying mud all over the place. But then again, when I started using nozzles they weren’t any better. I have a couple of top-of-the-line nozzles with different settings with which I could dabble, but they’re still way too strong. I also have to hold them at an angle, which disrupts the soil and sprays dirt all over the place.
This Black & Decker watering wand, on the other hand, is simply perfect for my watering needs. The handle is extra long so that I can water directly overhead without a mess. It produces a gentle shower even at full strength, which means that I can water my plants deeply and effectively in half the time. Best of all, I can put hooks under the eaves of my house, attach the wand, and voila! An outdoor shower. If you’re a veggie gardener, the wand is also gentle enough to rinse them off without any damage.
Organize and Extend the Life of Your Seeds
Seed packets have a tendency to get lost and forgotten until you find them well past their expiration date. I have a dedicated seed organizer for just that purpose, but since it’s too small to keep up all of the seeds I accumulate, they end up scattered all over the place. I’m also storing them all wrong. Whatever seeds don’t escape to my sock drawer or between the pages of books, are stored in the garage, where it gets quite hot in a Florida summer. Seeds like it cool … so the best place to keep them is the refrigerator, where space is hard to spare. I also cringe at the thought of my toddler getting ahold of the seeds, some of which are undoubtedly toxic.
But then I found these awesome fridge organizers at Tuesday Morning and knew exactly what to do. I handed one to the little boy carried aloft on my shoulders, who gave it a thorough inspection while heading to the checkout. While he napped, I had a blast grouping my seeds by season and then sorting them in alphabetical order. Maybe I need to get out more, or maybe I just found a great way to make my seeds last longer and keep them organized! I suspect that both of those statement are true.
Looking for more ideas to keep your garden gorgeous? Visit our How Does Your Garden Grow? pinboard for helpful hacks to enhance your outdoor space!
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