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Let’s Get This Garden Started

Whether you have one window box or an acre of land, it's never too early to start thinking about next summer's garden. Check out these great gardening tips to get a jump on growing season.

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Mini Seed StartersFamily Handyman

Mini Seed Starters

If you like to grow plants from seed, here's a great use for the clear plastic containers tomatoes and other produce come in. Make them into mini greenhouses! The containers have holes for air and drainage, so all you need to do is add soil and plant the seeds. When the seedlings grow tall, leave the lid open until it's time to transplant them into the garden. You can reuse the containers year after year.

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Potted Plant Transport

Potted Plant Transport

The spaces between the rungs of a stepladder are a great spot to transport tender plants in a vehicle. No more messy spills during those NASCAR turns! Check out this clever tip for making sure your plant pots don't get too heavy to move.
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Mini Greenhouse

Mini Greenhouse

Give vegetable and flower seedlings an early growth spurt this spring. Place seedling trays in a mini greenhouse—an upside-down transparent storage container. Just put the lid in a warm, sunny location, load it with trays, then snap on the container. For greater air circulation, drill a few 3/8-in. holes in the sides of the box or let it rest loosely on the lid.

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Self-Leveling Feet

Self-Leveling Feet

Here's how to make flower pots, vases, planters, boxes or almost any not-quite-flat-bottom object sit flat on the floor without scratching or slipping. Apply four blobs of acrylic caulk to the bottom, and let them dry until they're almost set. Then turn over the object and place it on a sheet of wax paper until the caulk cures. You'll get four stable feet.

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Weedy Tip

Weedy Tip

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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Not Calling Before Digging

Not Calling Before Digging

Did you know there's a nationwide number you can call before you dig? Call 811 to have your underground utility lines marked—for free. We recommend calling before starting any project that requires digging, even small projects like planting shrubs. Hitting an underground utility line with your shovel can knock out power to your house or neighborhood, and it can cause serious bodily harm—even death—not to mention a rather large bill from the utility company. When you call 811 from anywhere in the country, your call is routed to affected utility companies, which send out a professional locator to mark the underground lines, usually within a few days. For more information, visit call811.com. The other one-call referral system number we've featured, (888) 258-0808, can still be used to have your underground utilities marked.
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Install Flower BoxesFamily Handyman

Install Flower Boxes

Few projects add as much charm and color to a house as flowers in window boxes. Build your own window box or buy one from a garden center. These work best when mounted below double-hung, slide-by or stationary windows?casement and other swing-out window sashes will decapitate the flowers. Use a plastic liner to prolong the life of the planter and simplify fall cleanup. Easier yet, arrange container gardens in pots and planters on the front stoop or along the walkway.

Plus: 13 Bush Pruning Tips for Healthier Bushes

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Plant a Tree

Plant a Tree

Plant a young tree now, and before long your investment will add valuable curb appeal to your property. Before planting, make sure to consider how large the tree's root systems will be when it's fully grown, and choose a species that is recommended for your area–your local extension service will be able to provide a list of the best trees for your region. And as always, before you dig, make sure to call 811 and someone from the utilities company will come out and mark the underground utility lines. Read more tips for trouble-free tree planting here. Shade trees can be especially nice in the backyard.
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Plant Hardy Ground Covers in Shady Areas

Plant Hardy Ground Covers in Shady Areas

Grass is a sun-loving plant. It typically needs six to eight hours of sunlight daily for good health. While several shade-tolerant species may do OK under trees and in other sheltered spots, it's more likely that you'll end up with weeds, scraggly grass and bare ground. It's much better to plant a shade garden or a shade-tolerant ground cover that in a few years will blanket the area like a green carpet. And you won't have to mow. A local nursery expert will advise you on which plants and ground covers do best in your region.

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Portable Potting

Portable Potting

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.