Simplify Your Garden Maintenance With These Eight Tips

Does your beautiful garden turn into an alien landscape by the middle of summer?  Why not use some expert tricks to keep maintenance to a minimum?  Yes, you have to invest a couple of weekends in the beginning but the pay off is a place to relax, entertain your friends and add to your home’s well kept appearance with a minimum of effort.

  • Develop a garden plan – Your plan can be as simple or complex as you want to make it.  It’s purpose is to give a sense of direction to your gardening efforts.  Your plan will help you realize that even if some things have to be put off until next year, they will come eventually.  This step alone reduces the stress of creating an outdoor living space.  What do you want this space to be like?  Is it for outdoor entertaining or simply a place to relax after a busy day?  Your master plan will help your make quality “easy care” purchasing decisions when it’s time to shop.
  • When choosing your garden’s hard surfaces, consider future maintenance.  Are you starting with a deck or a cement patio?  By developing the seating area first, you can begin to use the area even before the rest of the garden is finished.  If the deck or patio is already installed, does it need to be refinished? Sealing it will prolong it’s life and keep it cleaner. Remember, a little care now can add years to its life.  If you are starting with bare ground, you might prefer a greener option.  A patch of lawn looks nice but remember that it will need ongoing care.  If your site is very shady, another option is to install patio blocks with a low growing moss between them.  It’s an attractive option that doesn’t need constant mowing.
  • Define your planting areas.  Do you need to add trees?  If so, the sooner the better because each year will increase their usefulness.  Don’t forget to consider the density of the shade they will produce, their mature height and if they are very messy.  Some flowering specimens are beautiful but do better in the corner of your landscape where you don’t have to deal with dropping blossoms or seed pods in your seating area.
  • Now consider the planting beds themselves.  If the ground is very compacted, it is worth it to rent a tiller or have someone do it for you.  Have your soil tested for ph and adjust if necessary.  This is a good time to have organic matter and compost worked in as well.  The better your soil is, the more successful your future gardening efforts will be.  Once the beds are ready, plant permanent greenery that will become the backdrop for your seasonal additions.  This is one of the secrets to having gardens that don’t require starting from scratch each year.  Once a permanent bush is planted, you can easily add color with flowering plants in front of it.
  • Plan to water – Not all of us can afford an automatic watering system but you can simplify your watering task.  Even if you can’t afford timers this year, you might be able to set up a pvc sprinkler system that can be manually operated.  Doing so will give you better water coverage and simplify the task.  Timers can be added when your budget allows.  If that is outside your budget 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.
  • Put landscape fabric under your mulch.  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 permanent edging.  It not only defines the edges of your flower beds, but also helps to keep grass from creeping into them.
  • Pick tables and chairs that are 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.
  • Choose a garden statue over a fountain.  Both add charm and help to give your garden an established look but fountains need to be cleaned weekly.  If you want something that makes soothing sounds, try larger windchimes that ring in a lower note.

General Garden Maintenance Tips for the Autumn Months

During the autumn months, there are some basic garden care tips that you need to keep in mind. These tips are designed to help you have the most beautiful garden and lawn possible. So grab your garden blower and let’s begin the process. Just keep in mind to never walk on your grass if there is a frost on it.

The first thing you will want to do is remove dead plants from the garden. These are the plants that thrived in the warmer summer months and are now withered on the ground. By removing these plants the overall appearance of your yard will greatly improve. During the removal process, you may also choose to plant new flowers and vegetables in your garden. You should ensure these new additions are freeze resistant and plan on having a covering for them at night.

When you have the garden free from dead plants, you will then need to grab the garden blower and remove all the leaves. This will be something you should do on a weekly basis, as the trees will continue to lose their leaves for a few months. When they are done, you can then put the garden blower away for a few months.

Next, move your grass to remove the buildup that is beneath it. Carefully go in a straight pattern and don’t worry about getting the lawn too short, right now you are preparing to do some seeding and fertilizing that will prove to be important down the road.

When this is done, take a few moments to use a lawn rake to clean up the area. Take your garden blower to it one more time just to ensure there was nothing left behind as well. Then starting from the edge of your lawn, then working backwards fertilize your lawn. As you do this process, be sure you have an even coating across the entire area. When you are done, make sure you do a full watering to ensure that the area remains moist. In about a week, you will want to reseed your entire lawn paying close attention to any bare or yellow patches that might turn up after you have done the fertilizing process.

After you have setup your entire yard and have prepared it for the cooler months, be sure that you follow the next piece of garden care advice. You will need to take your sprinkler system and wrap it well. Any watering that you might need to do in the winter months should be done by hand with a detachable hose. This will help you to prevent freezing and having a sprinkler system that can cause your problems next year.

Something to keep in mind during this entire process is some plants can’t tolerate the cold well. If you are expecting a freeze at anytime, be sure that you cover weaker plants with a warm blanket or plant cover. This way, you keep them looking great for the next season.

Water Garden Maintenance – How to Water Your Garden

Maintaining your pond or backyard water garden is the least favorite of all water gardening activities. Thankfully, it rarely takes a long time, and except for ending up wet and dirty, is not difficult to do. If you keep your pond balanced ecologically, water garden maintenance is easy and rare. A eco-balanced pond has one bunch of submerged vegetation per square foot of pond surface, has at least 50% of the surface covered by floating plants for shade, has no more than one linear foot of fish per 25 square feet of pond surface area, only goldfish. And most important, you do not feed your fish Once you have gotten your pond balanced, maintenance is easy.

There are some tasks that must be done regularly to keep your balanced pond balanced. Most of the time water garden maintenance is a matter of removing aquatic plants rather than adding to them. Aquatic plants are weeds occurring in swamps and will take over the pond if given a chance. So in doing your water garden monthly maintenance, remove all dead or dying plant material. If left to decompose, it can foul your water and kill your fish.

If you have water lilies, fertilize them monthly during the summer months. Use one fertilizer tab per gallon of pot. Often water lilies are planted in shallow and wide pots. Give them two tabs monthly from the time the pads reach the water in the spring until the lily begins to go dormant in the fall. You can tell when the dormancy begins. The pads will get smaller and the lily will bloom less often.

Each month remove all debris from the bottom of the pond. Use a fish net or pond vacuum cleaner. Usually a fish net is that is needed unless the pond is under trees.

Clean a filter monthly unless you have a biofilter which needs to have a thriving bacterial community growing in it. Just rinse out the biofilter and replace it. With a mechanical filter, usually a block of foam rubber in a box, remove it, rinse it until the water runs clear and replace it. Do not wring it out like a dishcloth or it will deteriorate quickly and you will need a new one.

Remove any hoses from the pump and using your garden hose with a powerful nozzle, clean out the pump hoses. Usually much algae will come out of the hoses. Your fish will eat it and love it.

Using that same garden hose, blast any debris or algae growth off your surrounding rocks and waterfall. Your fish will eat this as well.

Top off the pond if any water has evaporated. If you add more than 10& water by volume, don’t forget to add a dechlorinator. That will dissipate any chlorine and heavy metals found in most city water.

Check all hose connections, check your waterfall to make sure all water is falling back in the pond and not leaking off the side of the falls.

Monthly water garden maintenance is easy and takes just a few minutes. Your pond will stay clean and continue to give you hours of pleasure.