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Tips for Easier Gardening

Love to garden but short on time? Here are some tips that will help you plant, water and weed more efficiently so you have more time to stop and smell your roses.

FH062811_001_EASGAR_02-2Family Handyman
If you love gardening but your life is a busy place, you're going to love this batch of great gardening tips that will help you plant, weed and water your garden more quickly. From bringing plants home from the nursery to easier watering and pruning techniques, these tips will help you plant and maintain a gorgeous garden with less effort. Less weeding and more relaxing…now that's great gardening!

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No-stick shovel

Silicone spray makes shoveling easier

Whether you're dealing with wet snow or mucky soil, a dose of spray lubricant on your shovel will make the sticky stuff slip right off. Use a lubricant that contains silicone or Teflon and recoat the shovel occasionally.

Munch-proof your flower bulbs

Poultry netting protects bulbs

Keep hungry critters from snacking on your freshly planted flower bulbs by staking poultry netting over the bed. You can either remove the cloth in the early spring or let plants grow through the holes and leave it throughout the growing season.

Rein in an invasive plant

Collar aggressive plants with a container

Plants like gooseneck loosestrife have underground rhizomes (roots) that can spread to all corners of your garden before you know it. To keep them corralled, slice out the bottom of a plastic container with a utility knife.

The plastic collar keeps roots in one spot

Push this “collar” into the soil (or drive it down with a mallet) to encircle the plant and its invasive root system. If the soil has become compacted, cut around the plant with a spade first. Note: This technique won't contain plants that spread above ground like strawberries and mint.

Portable potting

Plywood shelf creates a stable surface

Cut a piece of plywood roughly to the shape of your wheelbarrow's back end and screw a few wood cleats along the sides to keep it from slipping off while you wheel. Now you'll have both soil and a potting surface right at hand when you take the wheelbarrow to the garden.

Plant portfolio

Keep a scrapbook of plant data

Store plant tags and sticks inside a cheap photo album. You can add details such as when and where the plants were purchased, special care or even the plant's location on a sketch of your yard.

Help for root-bound plants

Slice root balls and tease out roots

If you buy potted plants or shrubs, they may well be root-bound. With nowhere else to grow, roots form tight circles inside the pot. As the plant grows, the tightly wound roots prevent water and nutrients from reaching the leaves. Before planting, gently coax these roots outward with your fingers. If the roots are very stubborn, make three or four vertical cuts in the root-ball with a sharp knife. Once planted, water often to help the plant get established.

Lighten those heavy pots

Fill pot half full with foam packing peanuts

To lighten large pots, fill the pot one-third to one-half full with foam packing peanuts. They not only make the pot lighter but also provide space for drainage. Fit a round piece of landscape fabric between the soil and the foam to keep the materials separate. You can use a light potting mix that contains plenty of vermiculite and peat moss to make the pot even lighter. Some packing peanuts dissolve in water; be sure to test yours before putting them in the pot.

Blight-free roses

Prune to allow sun to reach the center

A rule of thumb for all roses, no matter where you live: Pruning to keep the center open lets the sunshine in and keeps out black spot and other such blights that love cool, moist, shady places.

Easy-read rain gauge

Dye makes water level easy to read

Drip food coloring into the bottom of your rain gauge the next time you empty it out. When it showers, the coloring will reconstitute and tint the water to make the gauge easier to read.

Potted plant transport

Step ladder keeps plants from tipping

The spaces between the rungs of a stepladder are great spots to transport tender plants. No more messy spills during turns!