Although most gardeners enjoy time spent in the garden, it isn’t always a walk in the park. Sometimes gardening is just plain hard work and well … not easy. But there are some things you can do to make your gardening efforts easier on yourself. Save yourself a little time and hard work by implementing some of these ideas into your garden and yard.
1. Put your efforts into having healthy soil.
It’s almost a gardener’s cliché, but it’s really true – healthy soil means healthy plants. Spend more time working to get rich, healthy soil and you’ll spend less time fussing over the plants.
- Get a pH kit from your local extension office. Send it off for testing. (Some state and local agriculture offices offer a wide range of free testing services, not just pH!)
- Use a good organic fertilizer on your soil; but use only when necessary. Too much fertilizer actually does more harm than good.
- Make your own compost and organic mulch to amend the soil. (Winter is a great time to get started on this project.)
2. Choose no-fuss perennials.
Even the most serious food and survival gardeners want to plant a few pretty flowers around the yard. You don’t need to raise picky roses or fussy, high maintenance plants to enjoy a bit of color in your yard each year. Instead, choose low-maintenance perennials, like daylilies, astibles, sedum, coneflowers, hosta, and more. Perennials virtually take care of themselves. You will not need to give them too much TLC, and many of them are practically drought-resistant.
3. Plan before you plant.
Put plants in the right spots to make your life in the garden a lot easier. Don’t let taller plants shade the smaller ones. Give everything room to grow adequately. Make sure you’ll have room to walk through your rows in the garden for picking and watering. (This is especially important in the food garden!) Think about each plant’s water needs and how close it is to the watering hose or rain barrel they need to be. Consider installing soaker hoses to help with the chore of watering on hot days.
4. Save your back with raised beds and containers.
If gardening is hard on your joints or your back, consider growing more of your plants in raised beds or containers. They allow you to lift the growing area up by six inches or more. You will not have to bend over and weed as heavily or as often with raised beds and container gardens. This is a good choice for many gardeners with health issues.
5. Use mulch in the garden.
This may sound like a strange way to save yourself time and effort but it really works! Mulch isn’t just some decoration you put around your plants. It actually has a purpose. Sure, mulch will make your garden look better, but more than that, it helps keep critical water in the soil and it also protects your plants by keeping the roots cool. Mulch can also help keep weeds and pests at bay!
6. Have the right tools handy.
You don’t need a lot of fancy stuff to garden well. But some gardening tools will simply make the job easier. Having a wagon handy when gardening will save you tons of time. It allows you to tote around your tools, plants and even your weeds from place to place! Never underestimate the time-saving power of using a pair of really good, sharp pruning shears versus using those rusty ones you’ve had lying around for decades. The same goes when buying new shovels, hoes or rakes. Choose well-built, strong tools that will work for you, not against you. The moral of this story is: You don’t have to buy a lot of tools for the garden, but when you do, buy quality tools.
Making things easier in the garden will allow you to spend more of your precious time on the gardening tasks you enjoy most. And you can’t really put a price tag on that.