Three Tips for Easy Summer Gardening

Large gardens can be overwhelming to maintain.  Turn your back on the garden for just a minute and weeds are taking over again, or slugs have gobbled up your favorite hosta.  Desperate gardeners are often forced to come up with little tricks and work-arounds to survive the summer and simplify their garden chores.

As a gardener, three things I like to save are time, money, and water.  Today I’m sharing some silly little tricks that do just that.

Saving Money:  For a Budget-Friendly Garden Accent, Turn that Pot Upside Down

Who says the saucer should go under the flower pot?  I turned a tall flower pot upside down and placed a deep saucer on top to make an inexpensive elevated planter to go under our old weeping cherry tree.

gardening tips: upside down pot
The green pot is turned upside down to give it more stability as a base for the saucer.

This planter has been under the tree for several years, so the sedum in the planter has spilled over and is growing in the soil below.

The pot is round and the saucer is square, but that really doesn’t matter.  Any combination of round and square would probably look fine.  Just drill a drain hole and add soil to any saucer that is deep enough to house a little group of plants and you’re all set.

upsidedown pot closeup - garden tips
Aerial view: saucer with plants

The plants you choose should have shallow roots.  This shade planting has violets, miniature ferns, mosses, and shade-loving sedum.  The rocks add a little height and interest and I was also able to pile the soil a little higher inside the rock circle.

You could also put a shallow saucer on top of a tall pot, glue them together with a good exterior adhesive, and have an instant birdbath.

Saving Water:  A Low-Tech Way to Keep Plants Hydrated

The planting bed along our driveway is not connected to our sprinkler system, but most of the plants there are somewhat drought-tolerant.

In hot weather, I splash a little water on the perennials there every week or so.  Because of their deep roots, I don’t worry about the larger shrubs or the trees as much – unless it hasn’t rained for a long time.  Then it’s time to give them a deep watering.

So I simply take an empty 64-ounce clear plastic juice container and score the bottom in a couple of places with a utility blade, making sure to cut all the way through the plastic.  The cuts I make are only about a half-inch long.

plastic pot for irrigatin - gardening tips

The goal is that when the container is filled with water, the water will slowly seep out through the small cuts in the bottom.

I place the water-filled container right at the base of a thirsty shrub. For this little tree in my driveway, I will use two containers – one on each side of the trunk.

plastic pots for irrigation - gardening tips

Then I’ll come back later in the day and refill the containers using a watering can that I keep nearby.  If I remember, I might refill the containers up to four times in a day and keep refilling them for two days.  By the end of the second day, gallons of water have been delivered straight to the base of the tree, and, since it has been delivered slowly, there is very little water waste or runoff.

Then I’ll move the container or containers to another thirsty shrub and do the same thing again.  I keep the containers moving down the driveway until each shrub has its allotment.

Once a month during a dry summer is usually enough for this rotation.  The plastic containers are ugly so I just put them away between rotations.

More elaborate -and probably better – ways to use plastic juice containers for irrigation have been invented.  Some include partially burying the container or elevating it and attaching a drip line.

But who has that kind of time?  So I simply score holes in the bottom, place them where needed, and fill them with water.  Which brings me to the next tip.

Saving Time:  A Living Trellis

Bamboo from our neighbor’s garden has jumped the fence and is now growing along the same driveway area I talked about above – and it’s been spreading.

When it spread in front of a clematis that I planted years ago, something fun happened:  The clematis climbed all over the bamboo.  No need for me to keep the clematis on a trellis or keep it growing neatly along the fence.  It can just climb around on the bamboo all summer while I sip a cup of coffee.

living trellis - gardening tips

Our garden re-landscaping project is way behind schedule, so I don’t have a vegetable garden this year.  Because my potted tomatoes shouldn’t be hit with overhead water, I had to move them away from the sprinkler system. The only place to put them was with the driveway bamboo.

The tomatoes are outgrowing their cages, but I haven’t had to do anything about that because the tall bamboo is acting as a natural support for the tomatoes.  The plants still seem to be getting enough sunlight and air circulation even among the bamboo.

Garden tips: tomatoes

So the bamboo is an uninvited squatter in my garden, but at least it’s making itself useful.  Of course bamboo roots are dense so it is easiest to put vines or tomatoes in pots before placing them among bamboo plants.

And if you are planting new bamboo, I strongly suggest that you plant it in some kind of container so it doesn’t take over your garden.

It’s Your Turn

Do you have any little tricks that help you get through your summer garden chores?  If so, I would love for you to share them with us.

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3 Replies to “Three Tips for Easy Summer Gardening”

  1. Genius. Just genius. I always love your gardening tips but I am especially fond of the upside down pot with the saucer on top. Such a great idea! Thanks so much for sharing at Inspiration Thursday! Come back tonight at 9 to party again!

  2. Really great tips! Love the Clematis growing up the bamboo. No bamboo here. : ) Thanks for sharing with SYC.

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