Summer Garden Maintenance Savings

by Pauline Milner

Maintaining your garden this summer does not have to sting your pocketbook. With a little ingenuity, you can enjoy your lush greenery and fragrant flowers with minimal effort and maximum savings.

When you are enjoying a lemonade and gentle breeze in your garden this summer, remember that your hard work from the spring requires maintenance throughout the warm months. Possessing the following knowledge will help you preserve your garden’s beauty economically.

Always water your plants early in the morning or just before sundown to avoid evaporation that occurs during warmer parts of the day. To cover a much wider area while using less water, poke holes in a hose and weave it around your plants. You only need to turn on the water for a few minutes to saturate the roots, which is where the moisture is needed most.

You can use rain barrels and household water from cooking or your fish tank to water your garden. Be sure that you use cooled water as hot water will harm your garden plants.

Pay close attention to crowded plants! If they do not have room to grow, you will not get the full benefit from their potential to spread and grow. You can move parts of plants and flowers in the summer but make sure you place them in an area with similar soil and sun exposure, so they will easily adapt to their new location. Remove brown and damaged leaves and flowers to promote new growth (called deadheading).

Many items you find at yard sales and thrift stores can be used as garden containers, which is useful in the summer when you need additional space for planting. Ideas include painting or wrapping old tires in burlap so you can plant in the ground but still have a decorative border and using an old wheel barrow or antique bathtub as individual planters.

You can add ornamental features to your garden anytime. Recycled bricks or plates broken in half make perfect edging. Bowling balls can be painted or decorated by gluing on colorful beads, and they will stay put even in very windy weather.

Many containers you find can be used as a bird feeder that is either free standing or hung from a branch. You can also add a layer of sand to hold up candles in old bottles for energy-saving patio and garden lighting.

Weed control is an essential part of keeping your garden healthy, but you do not need to use costly and sometimes harmful commercial products. Pour hot water that is left over from cooking on your walkway to easily dispose of weeds that are creeping up through the cracks. Combine one gallon of white vinegar with two tablespoons of liquid dish soap and one cup of table salt to make a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly solution for getting rid of unwanted weeds. Be careful to only spray the compound directly onto the weeds as it will quickly kill any living plant. Also, do not saturate the ground as it is unkind to root systems as well. In addition, this will deter pests like slugs at a cost of only around $5 per gallon.

Wait! Before you get rid of your garden weeds, eat them and supplement your food budget for free! These common garden weeds can be used raw or steamed in salads, soups, and stir fries. All parts of dandelions can be used from blossoms to roots. Clover can also be used to make tea. Lamb’s Quarter’s (also known as goosefoot) and chickweed are great substitutes for spinach. Purslane has a peppery flavor and is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Plantain (the weed, not the tropical fruit) can also be used as a topical treatment for burns, stings, and rashes, as can chickweed.

Although many weeds can be eaten and are delicious, never eat mushrooms found anywhere unless you have been advised by an expert that they are safe.

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When you are working in your garden, you do not need to spend upwards of $20 on a set of knee pads. You can use those left over from your kids’ old sports equipment or utilize the foam squares used for kid’s play areas. You can glue two or more together for more comfort.

Always put your gardening tools away dry and free of residue that can damage blades. Use regular cooking oil to help guard against any rust forming if they are kept in a damp area, like a shed. Keep your blades sharp by using a kitchen knife sharpener and forgo the expense of having a professional sharpen your tools. For larger blades, purchase a stone sharpening kit that will last years for around $25.

Maintaining your garden this summer does not have to sting your pocketbook. With a little ingenuity, you can enjoy your lush greenery and fragrant flowers with minimal effort and maximum savings.

Reviewed April 2019

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