11 Time-Saving Tips

Time-saving ideas from OG's own test gardeners.

Photography by Christa Neu


these garden tips will save you timeIn early spring, we can hardly wait to get busy in the garden, anxiously checking the soil to see if it is warm and dry enough to work in. Then spring shifts into high gear and "to-dos" start sprouting up like so many dandelions. All while the rush of daily life hurtles forward. Does that mean you have to give up your ambitious garden plans? No, you just have to put to use these time-saving ideas from OG's own test gardeners. They're guaranteed to give you more time to enjoy and less stress about what you haven't done yet.

1. Start with a plan.
A well-thought-out plan saves you time spent trying to decide where you want each plant to go during the few hours you have to work outside. Be even more productive, advises the manager of the OG Test Garden in Pennsylvania, by deciding now what to put in later to replace short-lived plants like lettuce and spinach.

2. Make quick beds.
Create a new perennial garden simply by slicing under turf with a spade, flipping it upside down, and then covering the area with 3 to 4 inches of wood chips. Wait a few weeks and then cut into it and plant your perennials.

3. Stash your tools.
Minimize trips to the shed by keeping tools close. "I have gloves, pruners, a trowel, and other tools with me at all times," says Debbie Leung, OG Test Gardener in Olympia, Washington. "I wear pants with lots of pockets, or a carpenter's tool belt. A 5-gallon bucket also works." Lisa Gabory, landscape coordinator at the Rodale family farm, has a more unusual approach: She uses an old metal mailbox to hold hand tools. "Placing the mailbox at the entrance to my garden not only makes finding tools easier; it looks cool!" she says.