The Essential Spring Gardening Checklist  For A Better Garden With Less Work

by Alex West


So it's only natural to add this activity to your daily life. However, for some people, it's not easy to fit it into their hectic schedule. No matter what your skill level, size of your yard or budget, there are simple ways to make gardening cost less time, money and energy. 


You can begin by learning what planting zone you are in, as this assists in selecting the proper flora, consider the size of the yard you'll have to work with, or if you'll require fencing. By implementing some of the time-saving tips below, I’m confident that you'll be well on your way to creating a lush, green haven for yourself as well as family and friends


The Perfect Plan


Making a sound and solid plan of action before you hit the greenhouse or garden center is the first step when it comes to creating your perfect garden without investing a ton of your time. To being with, consider your basic layout: What part of your garden will be for vegetables, which for flowers and what part you'll use as a play area for kids and pets. If you are new to gardening, then it's a good idea to keep your plan on the small side, so you don't get in over your head. 


If a garden design isn't your thing, yet you don't want to pay for a professional landscaper, I suggest you take a look at some of the free, open source garden design software available for download. These garden planners help you layout your garden and make plans from the comfort of your very own desktop. By doing so, you'll get a good idea of what part of your yard to devote to tomatoes, a kiddie pool, shade trees, flower gardens or a dog run. These garden planners not only save you time but money as well as you have less of a chance of buying plants and garden features you'll never use. Some of these garden planners include:


Smart Gardener

Better Homes and Gardens Planner


Keep it Under Control

So many of us desire to have one of those “House Beautiful” type gardens we see in magazines. Sadly, we often forget that gardens are composed of living greenery which continues to grow, spread and develop during the season. This, in turn, means you'll be spending your off hours' clipping, pruning, mowing, weeding and watering. 


So, if you want a lush, green paradise out back, but lack the time or inclination to care for one, consider a container garden. Container gardens are relatively inexpensive and very easy to care for, plus they are mobile, which means you can hang pots from fencing, place them on a patio, or rearrange them as often as you like. Examples of vegetables that grow well in containers include Tomatoes, green beans, peppers, and eggplant. As for shrubs you've got Rosa Munstead Wood, Luma apiculata, Rhododendron, and Pieris japonica, among others. 


Raised flower beds perform the same function with regards to control, as you are controlling the surface area and placement of your plants. If your landscaper is into creating hardscaping structures, you can request they create raised gardens made of brick and stone, which can also provide extra outdoor seating. Another benefit of raised plant beds is the lessening of wear and tear on your body. This is especially true if you have arthritis or back issues, as you can raise the flower beds to a decent height, which reduces bending and reaching. If you're looking for temporary raised gardening solutions, think hay bales. They are inexpensive, are only for one season and provide an excellent bed for your plants.  


Wheels

Yes, wheels. Whether you use your child's toy wagon or an expensive garden caddy, wheeling your plants and garden supplies from place to place will save you time and energy. Here, you'll be able to place your potted plants in the wagon, as well as your gardening implements, and quickly move them to wherever you'd like. If you'd like something a bit more fitting to the situation, then check out the various wheeled caddy's available at your garden center. These caddies are used to haul everything from leaves to stone birdbaths. There are also wheeled scoots with swiveled seating. By using these scoots you can sit and prune, weed or plant in one spot, and when finished, scoot yourself to the next. 


Ergonomic Gardening Tools 

It's no secret that some gardeners experience back and joint aches from time to time. To help lessen this, simply purchase ergonomic gardening tools. These tools are specifically designed to ensure that the tools take on the brunt of the pressure off of your joints. Examples of these tools include ergonomic hedge pruners with rotating handles, garden kneelers, and bionic gardening gloves. If you have a hard time bending or reaching for items, consider purchasing long reach or telescoping gardening tool sets. 


Low Maintenance Plants 

Low maintenance plants are best for both the busy person or beginner gardener. Before you begin to select your plants, get to know your zone and the type of plants that grow well there. For instance, a citrus tree will flourish in Florida, but might not do so well up north, whereas an apple tree would do nicely up north. Perennial flowers, shrubs, and trees are an excellent choice for the beginner gardener. 

These plants spring up, year after year on their own, with little effort from you. Daylilies, vines, peonies, and daisies are prime examples of perennials you see every day. If you're into saving water or live in a hot, dry climate, then it pays to become familiar with Xeriscaping. Xeriscaping refers to landscaping which uses drought-resistant plants such as ornamental grasses, coneflowers, and daylilies. When at the garden center, look for plants that have the WaterWise symbol on their labels. WaterWise plants require less water, which means less work for you.


 Save Time Watering

There are a couple of ways to save time on watering your plants, but you need to determine how much water is needed and how often. Instead of wasting a lot of time (and potentially precious plant life) with trial and error, do your research on the optimal living conditions of your plants and get a Soil Moisture Meter. Then, you can purchase a sprinkler or two, and put it on a timer. This not only saves you time, but you can set your timer to water your plants in the early morning hours, which is considered by experts to be the best time to water your garden. Another watering method is to install a drip irrigation system. These systems connect to your garden hose and provide water at ground level. If you're on the thrifty side, then just get an inexpensive garden hose, poke holes in it and weave it through your garden. Cover it with mulch to keep it out of site and turn on the tap.


Weed Barrier Paper 

Weeding your yard either means hours of backbreaking, sweaty work, or using dangerous herbicides. To avoid this, some people prevent weeds from cropping up by lining their flower beds with plastic before they laid the dirt, plants, and seed. Today, you can purchase weed barrier paper. Sold in large rolls, all you have to do is roll the paper down on the ground, make holes where you want your plants to go, and cover with dirt or mulch. This way, you'll eliminate the need to constantly weed, and helps to cut back on dangerous herbicide use. 


Conclusion

There you have it, a few basic steps you can take to have a lovely garden while cutting back on the work involved. Items such as ergonomic tools, weed barrier paper, using low maintenance plants all combine to ensure you obtain your very own, thick, green and exquisite garden with as little effort invested as possible. If space is limited, you can elect to look into container gardening or use one of the many free to download garden planners available online. Whichever method you choose, remember that keeping a garden whether to cultivate vegetables or just for beauty, adds to the overall quality of life.

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