Whether your idea of backyard bliss is a lush garden, a shady retreat or a perfectly manicured landscape, these tips will help you create the low-maintenance yard of your dreams.
When you start a new
perennial border, spread non-woven
polypropylene black landscape fabric over
the soil. The fabric keeps weeds under
control, holds heat in cool spring weather
(giving your plants a faster start), and lets
water soak through to the roots. At a local
garden center, buy a nonbiodegradable
fabric that weighs about 3.4 ozs. per
square yard (about $10 for a 3 x 25-ft.
piece). Use U-shaped metal stakes ($2 for a pack of 10)
to hold down the fabric.
Instead of throwing away empty laundry
detergent containers, rinse them out thoroughly
and then recycle them for watering
plants. Drill 1/8-in. holes in the top of the cap,
and a 1/2-in. hole just above the handle to
relieve pressure so the water flows freely.
If you use spike-type sprinklers, try setting
them in permanent sockets made from 1-in.
PVC pipe. These sockets will make it a snap to
move the sprinklers, and they'll keep them
upright and shooting water where you want it.
When you sow seeds, it can be hard to tell little
weeds from the young sprouts. Cut cardboard
tubes from toilet paper into one-third sections to
encircle the seed and keep you from plucking out
your young plants.
If you have a small yard, don't waste any precious real
estate on a bulky hose reel. Pound a 4-ft. length of galvanized
steel pipe ($7 at home centers) into the ground,
coil up to 50 ft. of hose around it and top the end with a
nozzle that hooks into the pipe's end.
This hose holder's
narrow profile is both space saving and attractive.
Attach a spray bottle of herbicide to your tractor or lawn mower
so that when you're mowing
your lawn, you can spray weeds right
when you see them for weed control on the fly.
Attach the bottle of herbicide to your
lawn tractor or mower with a hook-and-loop strip (like Velcro) in a
spot where you can easily grab it.
If you're building a fence, a retaining
wall or a planter, set a course of protruding
stones in the soil beneath it.
That way, your mower can cut all
the grass—no trimming by hand
needed. The stones should protrude
about 4 in. from the wall and stand at
least an inch above the soil so grass
doesn't creep over them. You will still
have to pull out grass from between the
A sprinkler isn't always the most efficient way to
water your plants, especially if you live in a hot,
dry climate. Soaker hoses ensure that the plants
get most of the water, and you don't need to
spend $25 at a garden center to get one. Give
your worn-out hoses a second career by converting
them. Just plug the end of the hose with
a round stick and perforate the hose with a
sharp nail. You'll get a free soaker hose and conserve
water at the same time.
Tired of water draining too quickly through hanging baskets?
Try ice cubes. They'll melt slowly enough so plants can absorb
as much water as they need.
Apply liquid herbicides
only on calm, windless
mornings. When the
wind's blowing, you'll not
only waste material but
also possibly kill nearby
shrubs and flowers.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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