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Home Gardening: Easier Weeding and Watering

These great tips will help you create an ideal, low-maintenance and beautiful outdoor living space.

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Low-maintenance perennial gardenFamily Handyman

Low-maintenance perennial garden

Landscape fabric discourages weeds

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.

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Laundry Jug Watering CanFamily Handyman

Laundry Jug Watering Can

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. Click here for more watering tips.

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Sprinkler socket systemFamily Handyman

Sprinkler socket system

Use PVC pipe to hold sprinkler spikes

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.

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Weedy tipFamily Handyman

Weedy tip

Use paper collars to identify plants

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.

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Space-saving hose storageFamily Handyman

Space-saving hose storage

Use galvanized pipe to corral your hose

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.

Use hook and loop tape to hold the bottle

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.

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Drive-by weedingFamily Handyman

Drive-by weeding

Spray weeds as you mow

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.

Use hook and loop tape to hold the bottle

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.

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No-trim wall borderFamily Handyman

No-trim wall border

Bury stones to make a mow strip

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 stones occasionally.

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Homemade soaker hoseFamily Handyman

Homemade soaker hose

Punch holes in a worn hose with a nail

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.

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Ice cube trickFamily Handyman

Ice cube trick

Use ice to prevent fast draining

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.

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Spray herbicides on calm daysFamily Handyman

Spray herbicides on calm days

Herbicide overspray can damage plants

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.