IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Time-saving tips for gardeners

Picking the right plants, tools can reduce amount of work in your yard.
/ Source: Weekend Today

Planning some yardwork this weekend? Joe Lamp’l visited “Weekend Today” to share tips for picking the right plants and tools for your garden.

As life gets busier, more and more people are discovering the pleasures of simply staying home to savor that precious free time. We’re finding that all the pleasures of “getting away” and a “change of scenery” can be found right in our own backyards. However, one of the biggest challenges for the do-it-yourselfer in creating that outdoor oasis is the time involved to make it so, as well as the ongoing maintenance. 

We all enjoy beautiful gardens and landscapes, especially when they fill the view from our own living room or deck. The challenge is finding the time to keep it looking great. Fortunately, there are certain plants available that are very undemanding and tools and tips that cut down on the time we do spend in the garden working.

Putting the right plant in the right place is the first step in keeping them looking as good as when you bought them. Another tip is to buy plants that offer high visual impact but require very little maintenance. Here are three examples of some very carefree plants:

Knockout Roses (full sun): 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 the common 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 beauty.

Daylilies (sun to part shade): Lay a daylily on the ground and watch it grow! Well, almost, but it can happen. Daylilies are deer resistant, tough yet beautiful plants. There are thousands of varieties in a rainbow of colors. They bloom all summer and return the next year thicker and fuller than the year before. The only work you’ll have to do is to divide them every 3-5 years.  That way you can give them to your friends and make more room for the lilies to grow in your garden.

Hostas (shade): If you’re looking for a show stopper for the shade garden, hostas are it. From miniature to massive, these plants known for their bold foliage now are available in thousands of varieties. Hostas offer more shades of green than you know existed, from lemon-lime to blue-green and every shade in between. There are also interesting variations in color for added interest. The bonus with this easy-care plant is that some are highly fragrant and all do well in containers. 

Impatiens (shade): For instant color in shade, impatiens top the chart. They grow happily in the shadiest parts of your landscape and bloom from the last frost of spring to the first frost of fall. These plants fill out nicely in height and width and the flower color choices are plentiful.  Impatiens are annuals so you’ll need to buy new ones next year, but without a doubt, they are one of the best returns on your investment for the shade garden. What could be more gratifying?

Let’s face it. Even the least demanding plants deserve our attention every now and then. For the gardener on the go, consider these time-saving tips:

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. The sky’s the limit!

Pre-measured fertilizer: Whenever plants need a fertilizer boost, consider having pre-measured packages ready to go. Simply place enough water soluble fertilizer into each bag for the amount necessary for your watering can. Place them in your garden mailbox as well. Then, when it’s time to feed the plants, simply grab a package and empty it into the watering can.  Fill with water, and feed your plants. No more mess with measuring each time, and you’ll always have just the right amount available. 

Soaker Hoses: Watering can require a lot of your time in the garden.  An easy way to make sure your plants are getting water right where they need it is to use soaker hoses. These porous hoses allow water to seep out slowly. The advantage is the roots have time to absorb the moisture, there is less risk of over-watering and you can avoid some risks or plant disease because the foliage stays dryer.

Automatic Timers: Simplify watering duties even more by using automatic timers. Use these in conjunction with soaker hoses and put your watering woes on auto-pilot. The timers can be set to come on automatically from several times a day to once a week. Now you can leave home for weeks without the worry of 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 apply a layer of mulch.  Applying mulch about three inches thick 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.

The tool sheds of today can be equipped with many time-saving resources that are also much easier on the body. The right tool for any job can make all the difference between pleasure and pain when it comes to gardening chores. Here are a few worth having in your lineup:

Ratcheting pruners and loppers: The strength required to cut through that twig or branch can sometimes be more than we can muster. Usually we fight through, sometimes at great expense to our body. Ratcheting cutting tools are designed to alleviate some of the force required to complete the task. Pruning jobs beyond our physical ability are now made possible with the aid of ratcheting pruners and loppers.

TrenchFoot: Most shovels are the perfect tool for digging. There’s just one problem: that small metal edge across the top. We’re supposed to put our foot on it to drive the blade into the dirt. Did you ever think about how impractical this is? One slip and the only digging you’ll be doing is into your wallet to pay the emergency room bill. TrenchFoot is a clever device designed to slide over the handle of most digging tools. It provides a “step” or wider area for you to safely place your foot as you drive the blade into the ground. The bonus here is that you only need one to work with all your tools. It’s priced right too at around $10.

GardenArmor Gloves: Gone are the days of all-purpose gloves. Now we have gloves specially designed for just about any specific task, from light duty to the heaviest of jobs. GardenArmor Gloves are a great example of a glove made for tough jobs, specifically when sharp objects are involved, such as thorns. The gloves are so puncture resistant, they’re demonstrated by grasping barbed wire. Having the right tool does make the difference and gloves are no exception. Now you can confidently attack any “sticky” job and get it done more quickly. Less time on the chores means more time to play!

Enjoying more time at home in our “outdoor rooms” is made all the sweeter when less time is required for the chores to create that inviting setting. The right plants, tools and a few tips can make a big difference in turning chore time into playtime.

For more tips on how to save time and effort in your garden, visit