Do you love the idea of having a garden but find that your yard falls far short of your Spring dreams? I used to plant a beautiful garden that turned into a weedy mess by the middle of Summer. You know how it is. Between the summer heat and vacation time away from home, the rain causes everything to explode with growth. When you finally get back to it you are lucky to find anything to harvest. If that sounds like your annual battle, you can do what I did to simplify your garden maintenance and keep it looking neat.
Cleanliness is next to godliness – It is imperative that you start the season with a clean slate. Remove old weeds and dead branches. Clean your patios and walkways and if they need it, seal them. It will not only preserve their life, but also keep them cleaner. If your lawn has dead patches where it gets foot traffic, replace it with a patio material that can take the traffic. Your garden department has forms that can make a cement path look like stonework or you could choose gravel, mulch or patio tiles. The idea is to replace your struggling grass with something that will look great with little on going effort.
Mulch, mulch, mulch – I can’t stress the value of mulch enough. With my last vegetable garden, I raked all of my oak leaves onto the beds. Now I have heard that Oak is too acid to be used without composting it first but by adding a little garden lime, I had superb results. The leaves kept my garden soil cooler and moister. It really cut my watering time and my veggies loved it. You can bet I added it to all my other garden beds the next year. PLEASE NOTE:The secret to boosting the benefit of your mulch is to lay landscape fabric under it. Some people use strips of plastic but unless you poke holes in it, the rain can’t penetrate. Other people use newspapers, whatever you choose, putting mulch on top of a weed barrier keeps weeds from taking over your garden. If any do sprout, you will find that they have shallow root systems and pull out easily. Along with this, add your permanent edging. It not only defines the edges of your flower beds, but also helps to keep grass from creeping into them.
Plant permanent greenery – It will become the backdrop for seasonal additions. This is one of the secrets to avoid starting from scratch each year. Once a permanent bush is planted, you can easily add flowering annuals in front of it and change them with the season. It keeps your garden looking fresh even though you are only actively working the front 1 or 2 feet of space..
Plan to water – Even if you can’t afford timers this year, you can simplify your watering task. If possible, set up a pvc sprinkler system that can be manually operated. Doing so will easily give you better water coverage. Timers can be added when your budget allows. If that is beyond your means and you have to rely on a hose and sprinkler system, consider adding separate hoses for each area that you have to water. A simple shutoff splitter will direct the water where it’s needed without having to reposition the hose each time. You are more likely to stay up with needed watering if all you have to do is turn a valve on or off.
Pick durable tables and chairs – Garden furniture must be weatherproof and easy to clean. If you are in an area that gets a lot of rain, add a garden chest where chair cushions can be kept clean until you need them. Who wants to be wiping down cushions when company is coming?
Finally, choose outdoor garden statues over a fountain – I have both in my landscape and I really love my fountain; but if you want to make your life easier, the fountain needs weekly cleaning. You can provide a soothing sound like a fountain does but without the work by hanging big brass garden bells or large wind chimes that have a low tone. Either one will add interest to your garden without increasing your work load.