Do this, plant that: Productivity tips in the garden

GROWINGAGREENERWORLD.COMApril 10, 2014 

Every day that I'm not on the road, I look out my office window toward the garden, and walk the property at least once or twice. My mind never stops turning with all the projects and to-dos I see for my landscape. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

My dream is to someday experience the term coined a few years back - "staycation." The concept applies to the notion of staying home in an environment that is so pleasant, you feel like you're on vacation. In theory, I love the idea. But in reality, it's another story. Fortunately, for the lawn and garden, there are some pretty helpful ideas along with a number of undemanding plants that can get us a few steps closer to a truly relaxing staycation in our own little corner of the world.

TIPS AND TRICKS

These are a few of my favorite tricks for getting a little bit closer to nirvana.

• Soaker hoses: Keeping up with watering can rob many hours of precious free time. An easy way to cut down on this time consuming event is to make sure your plants are getting water right where they need it by using soaker hoses. These porous hoses allow water to seep out slowly and deeply. Roots have time to absorb the moisture and there is less risk of over-watering.

• Automatic timers: Simplify watering duties even more by using automatic timers. Use these in conjunction with soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems and put your watering woes on autopilot. The timers can be set to come on automatically from several times a day to once a week. Then, whether you leave home for weeks or want more carefree time in the hammock, you won't have to worry about your plants or lawn not getting watered.

• Mulch: Usually the most dreaded task in any garden is the weeding. One simple solution to cutting down on the amount of weeds your garden will have is to use mulch. A three-inch layer will block the sunlight most weed seeds need to germinate. The added benefit of mulch is that it keeps your soil cooler, cuts down on moisture loss and helps suppress disease. It even looks great and really shows off the plants.

• A garden mailbox: Even the most organized gardeners find themselves running back to the shed or garage for that must-have tool for the job at hand. Placing a mailbox or similar storage box in the garden can eliminate those unnecessary trips back to the tool shed. Fill the mailbox with your most important small tools and you'll always have them close at hand. Consider adding a trowel, plant labels, waterproof pen, twine, scissors, pruners, insect spray and bottled water. Sometimes it's the little things that make a big difference.

PLANTS TO PLANT

When it comes to high-impact, low-maintenance plants, here are three of my favorites. Just keep in mind, even the least demanding plants deserve our attention every now and then.

• Knock Out roses: This is the un-fussy rose. If you've been intimidated by growing roses in the past or are tired of the work necessary to keep them disease and pest-free, this is the rose for you. Knockout roses are prolific bloomers and are very resistant to black spot and mildew problems typical of so many other roses. Provide full sun and well-drained soil and this rose will reward you with months of carefree beauty.

• Daylilies: They're so easy, you can practically lay a daylily on the ground and watch it grow. Daylilies are beautiful and deer resistant with thousands of varieties in a rainbow of colors. They bloom all summer and return the next year thicker and fuller than before. The only work you'll have to do is to divide them every 3 to 5 years.

• Hostas: If you're looking for a showstopper for the shade garden, hostas are it. From miniature to massive, these plants known for their bold foliage are available in thousands of varieties. Hostas offer many shades of green, from lemon-lime to blue-green and every shade in between. The bonus with this easy care plant is that some are highly fragrant and all do well in containers. Unfortunately deer resistance is not one of its strengths.

Joe Lamp'l is the host and executive producer of Growing a Greener World on national public television.

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