If you find that gardening is one long battle against the clock and the calendar, take a look at the way you have designed your garden, the plants you have chosen and how you organise the work. Are you wasting time?

1. Training

Select climbers that need no tying to their supports. Avoid trained forms of plants that require pruning and tying in every year.

Also, avoid climbers that need regular pruning to keep them healthy, productive and under control.

 

 

2. Hedging

Hedges

Instead of a formal hedge that needs trimming twice a year, use an informal border of compact evergreen shrubs which don’t need pruning. If you want a hedge, choose one that is not too vigorous for the chosen position and that is trouble free.

 

 

3. Equipment

Use the right tools, garden products and equipment to get the job done fast. If a task is easy to do, don’ t leave it to become a problem. For occasional big tasks, consider hiring specialist tools or employing a contractor to do the job for you.

 

 

4. Watering

To reduce watering time grow drought tolerant plants, apply a layer of mulch to prevent evaporation from the soil and water only those plants that really need it. Install an automatic watering system, especially where regular watering is needed, such as for container plants and in the greenhouse.

 

 

5. Maintenance

Avoid the need for staking by growing compact versions of tall perennials or plant them close together so that they support each other. Select flowering plants with weather-resistant blooms which stand up to wind and rain and that don’t need regular deadheading for continuous flowering.

 

 

6. Edging

mowing the lawn

Keep edges to a minimum by making the lawn shape simple. Install a mowing strip along the edges of the lawn so that the lawnmower can trim right over the edge. Any awkward tufts of grass and rough areas can be dealt with quickly using a nylon-line trimmer .

 

 

7. Mowing

Cut your mowing time in half by simplifying the design of your lawn. Avoid awkward corners and fussy shapes by converting them to sweeping curves that are easy to cut without stopping and starting. Also, remove any obstacles such as overhanging shrubs and specimen trees that slow you down as you mow. If you have several specimens in a lawn, link them together in a single island bed.

 

 

8. Pruning

Choose plants that will perform reliably with minimal pruning. Keep any pruning you do as simple as possible. For instance, don’t bother following traditional pruning methods for hybrid tea and floribunda roses, just cut all the stems down to 30 cm (12 in) high using shears, secateurs or even a hedge trimmer.

Prepare prunings for the compost heap quickly by using a shredder or spread them on the lawn and chop them up with a rotary mower with grass-box or use a garden vacuum that mulches too.

 

 

9. Digging

Dog digging

There is no need to dig at all once you have adopted the deep-bed system for growing vegetables.

If you are preparing a vacant plot for planting shrubs or flowers, get rid of the weeds, dig in a thick layer of organic matter and from then on you only need to mulch and let worms improve the soil.

 

 

10. Planting

Grow trouble-free and long-lived shrubs and perennials instead of annual spring and summer bedding that needs replacing every year. All new plants must be planted carefully into well-prepared soil so they establish quickly and are able to resist attacks from pests and diseases.

 

 

11. Spraying

Buy varieties of plants that are resistant to pests and diseases. If you want to grow vegetables, choose modern varieties that are easier to grow and protect them with crop covers such as insect-proof mesh or garden fleece.

Encourage natural predators to take up residence in your garden by growing nectar-rich flowers, providing nesting and overwintering sites, and by feeding birds in winter. Use a biological control in the greenhouse.

 

 

12. Weeding

Tackle weeds early so they don’t have a chance to flower and spread seed. Then cover any bare soil with a layer of mulch or ground-cover plants to smother new weeds before they get established. Control problem weeds with weedkiller.

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