T. Lacoma

Looking for ways to save time and get rid of nagging landscape problems this summer? This collection of landscaping and gardening hacks will give you effective new techniques to get the beautiful backyard you’ve always wanted.

Plant More Trees

Perfectly manicured lawns look great, but take lots of time and trouble to plant and maintain. Consider planting trees instead. They’ll create a shady, forest-like atmosphere while stopping lawn grass from growing as quickly, making your yard landscape unique and low maintenance.

Use Plastic Gallon Jugs to Protect Early Shoots

Cut the top quarter off plastic gallon jugs (like classic plastic milk jugs) to create a protective enclosure for seedlings. This keeps them safe from birds and rodents without bothering with time-consuming nets, meshes or traps. For a busy garden landscape, use a marker to write the name of the plant on each jug so you know what’s growing at a glance. Remember to take the jugs off once the shoots are fully developed to avoid mold.

Invest in a Heavy-Duty Tarp

Nothing is as useful in landscape projects as a durable tarp. It’s excellent for moving leaves, weeds, soil, small rocks and other materials quickly and safely when working in the yard. You can also use it to cover plants or landscaping materials on a truck bed when transporting them, or to temporarily protect projects from bad weather. Just don’t leave a tarp laying out on the lawn for too long, or it will kill your grass.

Cardboard is the Perfect Lawn-to-Garden Material

Want to convert part of your lawn into a garden or flower bed? Instead of digging out all the grass by hand, try this method instead: Dig a channel around the grass and cover it with a layer of cardboard. Put several inches of mulch on top of the cardboard, then water it thoroughly. The grass (unable to get sunlight) will naturally die out and merge with the cardboard, preparing the area for any plants you have in mind.

Clean Your Old Clay Pots with a Vinegar Soak

Do you use clay pots in your landscaping? Over time these beautiful pots can become stained with mineral deposits. Trying to clean them with a hose and soap takes forever, and may only be partially effective. Try vinegar instead. Mix up a bucket with roughly one-part vinegar and three parts water, then let your pots soak in it for about an hour. Remove them and give them a quick scrub to make them good as new.

Automate a Rain Barrel to Save Time Watering

Do you like saving water? Do you have a spot in your yard that doesn’t get enough irrigation? You don’t have to water it by hand or dig up your garden to install more sprinklers. Instead, attach a rain barrel to your gutters and connect it with a gravity fed drip line that you can wind between your plants. They’ll get the water they need with no waste, and plants near your gutters won’t get swamped.

Have a Tricky Slope? Switch to Ground Covers

Many of us struggle with backyard landscapes with steep slopes where plants struggle to grow. If you’re worried about dust and erosion from these slopes, try planting ground covers there. Ground cover plants thrive in tough, sloped conditions, prevent erosion and need little water. You can plant them and largely forget about them as their roots spread and the ground cover does its work. Compared to the maintenance of a regular grass lawn, ground cover plants will save you lots of time.

Make Starting Plants Speedy with Eggshells

Save a few eggshell halves when you’re planning on starting plants from seeds. Fill the eggshells with potting soil, then add a seed and water. This is an easy way to start your plants and watch the shoots to see which are healthy enough for transplanting. When the time comes to move them outside, simply plant the eggshells right in the ground! Eggshells contain valuable soil nutrients like calcium.

Plant Your Pots for Effortless Plant Control

Worried about plants and flowers overgrowing your garden landscape? Keep your new plants in their pots when you plant them in your garden for better control. Mix up a little potting soil and fertilizer inside the pot to help the plant transition, and take care of it as you normally would. You’ll save plenty of time on planting and maintenance – all you have to do is dig a hole! Of course, this doesn’t work well for perennial plants that may well outgrow their pots, but it’s effective for controlling smaller annual flowers and herbs.

Add a Little Baking Soda for a Quick Soil Fix

If you think your soil may be too acidic (low pH) for a sensitive plant like geraniums, mix in a sprinkle of baking soda with the soil before planting, then water the area thoroughly so it mixes in well. Baking soda is a natural alkaline substance that will raise the pH level at a fraction of the cost of soil amendments such as lime. It only takes a few seconds, and it’s right there in your kitchen.