Finish this type of trench lawn edging by covering the area with some type of mulch. A mulch layer helps keep weeds from sprouting in the uncovered soil and prevents soil erosion from the planting bed itself. If your trench area is shallow, you can run your lawn mower along the bed edge by dropping one wheel into the trench. This eliminates any need for string trimming the lawn edge.
Watering plants or gently squeezing pot sides can make it easier to remove plants from pots. If you see roots like this, it means the plant has been growing in the pot for a long time and has become root bound, with roots growing in the shape of the pot. Tease and loosen roots, using your fingers or a weeding knife, which might be needed in a case like this.
Mulching can be a big task in the fall, if you have multiple garden beds. Here's a tip from The Morton Arboretum in Illinois: Organic mulch should be composted or otherwise treated before use. The step kills insects, weed seeds and disease microorganisms. The texture of composted mulch generally is more uniform, creating better curb appeal.
Here is an expansive, open Ipe deck that offers ample room for both full sun and shade activities. Ipe is a tough, durable and visually striking hardwood that is popular among homeowners. Tips for DIY installation: Use pre-grooved boards which will save you time in assembling; Carefully inspect all boards in advance to weed out any that may be slightly bent or warped; Use a face mask when installing to prevent irritation from the sawdust.
Every retreat needs some sort of screen or walls to provide a sense of privacy. If space is at a premium (think deck or balcony retreat), try a living wall planter or vines on a trellis to screen a space without gobbling real estate. A fence, lattice or hedge provides year-round privacy, while plantings may only shelter your retreat during the height of the growing season. This hideaway bench boasts industrial style that’s tucked behind a living screen of joe pye weed (Eutrochium) and tall maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis).
You have several options for getting rid of dandelions permanently. The first is hand pulling or digging. When digging a dandelion, use a special dandelion fork or weeding knife, inserting it into soil along the plant. The taproot typically extends straight down from the tuft of leaves, so aim to place your tool alongside that root. Wiggle the tool a bit to loosen the soil around the taproot, grab all of the leaves in your hand, and pull.
Never underestimate the power of mulch. This simple ground cover provides a host of benefits, including suppressing weeds, helping soil retain water and keeping soil (and plant roots) cool in the heat of summer. Organic mulches like shredded bark, compost or fine forest mulch also slowly decompose and help to build healthy soil. How much mulch is enough? Aim for a 2- to 4-inch-thick layer. Refresh mulch as it breaks down so you maintain that consistent covering on soil.
It’s important to cover soil beneath tomatoes with a mulch of some kind, such as straw, grass clippings, compost or shredded leaves. Many tomato diseases spend part of their time living in soil. When rain hits soil, particles splash up and can land on lower tomato leaves, leading to a disease outbreak. Covering soil is one way to help control tomato diseases. Mulch also helps soil stay moist, which helps ensure a hefty tomato crop. Another reason to mulch is that it suppresses weeds.
Give your yard’s shady spot a splash of color courtesy of Dear Dolores hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Wyatt LeFever’). This bigleaf or mophead hydrangea opens 8-inch flower heads all season long—pink in alkaline soil, blue in acidic. (Add aluminum sulfate to soil to make it acidic.) The first wave of flowers appears in spring, followed by blossoms from summer to fall. Prune after flowering and/or in early spring to shape the plant. This classic bloomer grows 5 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 5-9. Good to know: Mulch soil around hydrangea to help maintain moisture and keep weeds down.
Killing actual dandelion plants is one tactic in the war on this weed. Another is creating an environment where dandelion seeds can’t successfully germinate. To do this, use a pre-emergent herbicide like corn gluten meal or Preen. This type of weedkiller interferes with seed germination, which means seeds can’t produce a plant. Use corn gluten meal in fall and early spring (about the time forsythia flowers). Another technique to make your yard unfriendly to dandelion seeds is to mulch planting beds, and don’t cut your lawn shorter than 2 to 3 inches. Taller grass grows thicker, shading soil so dandelion seeds can’t sprout.
Durable and easy to use, pound-in edging provides a quick solution for edging a lawn. Simply use a rubber mallet to pound individual pieces into place. With this edging, you don’t have to cut sod, except in the hardest clay soil. Pound-in edging features a polyethylene (plastic) construction, which means it holds up for years. Lawn edging usually comes in different depths. Shallower edging works well when you have hard clay soils or want an edge that’s flush with surrounding lawn. For deep weed protection, an 8-inch depth works well. Choose deeper edging (up to 12 inches) for loose, sandy soil.
Digging is at the heart of gardening, and one of the quickest ways to tuck seedlings into soil is with a hand trowel. Look for trowels with an ergonomic design to lessen hand and wrist fatigue. Trowel blades with inch markings take the guesswork out of proper planting depth. Trowels that feature a seamless handle-blade design won’t break or fall apart. Other hand tools worth considering are a short handled pick mattock (for rocky soil); a Korean hand plow (often sold as a ho-mi and one of the most versatile tools ever conceived); and a sturdy weeder (cobra head type works like a gem).
This annual weed thrives in shady areas with moist, fertile soil, but it’s adaptable and can also sprout in dry areas. Chickweed forms a low-growing crown of stems that spread and sprawl. In a planting bed, the stems crawl through perennials and annuals, showing up as far as 12 to 18 inches from the plant’s crown. In lawns, it usually shows up in thin grass with heavy, moist soil. For a small infestations, hand-pulling works fine. Try to get plants up before they set seed, which can number up to 800 per plant. For heavy infestations, look for herbicides that list chickweed. There is also a perennial chickweed that spreads by seed and stem or root pieces.
Sharp blades are vital to successful gardening, whether they come in a pair (pruners) or as single blades, like these tools. The large tool is a perennial divider. The heart-shape blade slices through the center of perennials like pudding, and the short handle provides enough space to get some real oomph behind the effort. It also makes quick work of edging a small bed. The big knife (sold as Fiskars Big Grip Knife) makes quick work of weeding, seed planting, dividing small plants and digging holes for bedding plants. A similar tool is the Japanese hori-hori knife (which can easily take the place of a trowel). While these types of bladed tools are somewhat specialized, their versatility in the garden makes them worth the investment.
The nightmare of dandelions is the deep taproot (up to 15 feet long) and puffball seedhead, which disperses seeds on every breeze. The best defense against dandelions in the lawn is growing thick, healthy turf, which means mowing at the right height and fertilizing correctly. In planting beds and paths, these familiar weeds tend to show up in the worst places, such as rooted in the center of a perennial clump or tucked right in the edge row of paving stones. The best ways to get rid of dandelions? Spray them or dig them. When spraying, kick dandelions a bit first to scuff and wound the leaves—it helps the spray penetrate better. With digging, make sure you get at least 2 inches of taproot or they’ll return as two plants.
Canada thistle brings a thorny problem to any landscape where it appears. This prickly beast grows from seed that can blow into your yard, or it can sprout from root pieces, which sneak in with bulk topsoil or mulch loads. Size varies, with many mature plants reaching 5 to 8 feet tall. In a single season, one plant can produce a 20-foot-long root system, and it only takes one piece of root to produce a plant. Control through weeding, but dig carefully and deeply to get the horizontal root. After digging, if another sprout appears, pull it, too. Or use an herbicide. The best time to spray is as soon as leaves break ground. Spray repeatedly through the growing season, and you will eventually kill it.
Also known as wild morning glory, bindweed is bad news. Hedge bindweed spreads by seed and creeping underground stems; field bindweed spreads by weeds and roots, which grow up to 30 feet deep. These plants open flowers that look like morning glory, which is why many gardeners let them grow. They’ll grow along the ground like a ground cover, but if there’s a support nearby, like a rose, fence or tree, the vines twine and climb. Since these plants are tough to eradicate, it’s important not to let any get a foothold in your yard. Pull them as soon as you see them, and continue pulling each time they emerge. It will take possibly years for the roots to exhaust, but you can eventually beat them this way. For quicker kill, apply an herbicide that kills the root. It may still take more than one treatment, but you will kill these persistent plants.