How-To

6 Tips for Easier Gardening This Season

Fine Gardening – Issue 206
Photo: courtesy of Tony Fulmer

1. Repurpose an old cushion for a garden seat – Winning Tip

Garden kneelers are a necessity as you age, not a luxury. One day when I was getting ready to toss some perfectly sound but faded chair cushions, I thought, “Why not use these for gardening?” So I slipped one into a heavy-duty garbage bag, tied the drawstring, and had a “cushier” cushion than conventional kneelers provide. It also gave me a bigger target to sit on. Gardeners are often on a wet lawn or a hot surface reaching into a bed, and sitting is a nice alternative to kneeling. And when the cover gets too gross, I simply replace it with a new garbage bag.

—Tony Fulmer, Deerfield, Illinois

mother goose
Photo: Stephanie Fagan

2. Garden pests may be doing you a favor

I used to be very annoyed with a pair of nesting geese that come each spring to my yard, until I noticed that the protective parents keep the groundhogs away from my garden. Now I happily clean up their droppings, which I throw in my garden as fertilizer, and I say “Welcome” to my feathered friends.

—Mary Crum, Holland, Pennsylvania 

old plastic zipper bag clipped to the bucket
Photo: courtesy of Julie Scandora

3. Easily pick up trash when you come across it in the garden

When doing odd jobs around the garden, I invariably find bits of trash, such as shredded plastic in the commercial compost, wrappers dropped by crows, and cigarette butts tossed by drivers. Such trash doesn’t belong in the compost bucket I carry. I don’t want it in my pockets, and the little pieces are hardly worth a special trip to the garbage can, so I keep an old plastic zipper bag clipped to the bucket I carry around the garden. The bag is always handy, and even if I dump the bucket, the bag stays closed.

—Julie Scandora, Seattle

child’s plastic wagon with garden tools
Photo: Stephanie Fagan

4. Don’t break your back, repurpose a wagon for your garden tools

When I was walking yesterday, I noticed that my neighbor was using a child’s plastic wagon as a garden-tool caddy. This struck me as a great way to repurpose an item that many parents no longer need after their kids have grown up. 

—Dave Barrett, Waterbury, Connecticut

dividing perennials
Photo: Michele Christiano

5. A serrated knife can save time and effort

I keep a large serrated knife at my potting table for dividing plants and opening bags of soil, but I have found other wonderful uses for it as well. For example, I just finished cutting down five huge outdoor Aspidistra with the knife, and it was so much faster and easier than using pruners. Even better, I have a large and varied collection of Liriope that need to be cut back every year, and I have also been doing that with pruners. That chore took lots of time and energy and was hard on the back. This year I used the serrated knife and took care of a clump in almost one swipe! My serrated knife is now one of my top five tools.

—Kathy Cuming, Batesburg, South Carolina

chicken wire
Photo: Erin Presley

6. Painted chicken wire keeps critters away without creating unseen obstacles

I garden in the country and have many hungry critters to deal with. To protect the plants they like, I put up small chicken-wire cages, but they are hard to see when things are growing up, and I have stumbled over them a number of times. To prevent this, I now spray-paint several inches of the chicken wire at the top with a bright color that stands out. I no longer have trouble seeing the cages, and when the foliage gets large enough it covers the sprayed portion. By then, it also seems that the critters aren’t as eager to eat the plants, and I can take the fences down and reuse them next year.

—Elaine Burma, Tea, South Dakota


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