Short Cuts to a Great Garden

November 9, 2012

Here are my tips for making gardening less labour intensive and more successful.

  • Weed just after a rain shower, the ground is softer and it makes the whole job easier
  • Water the ground a hour before you dig a hole.
  • When making a new bed. Dig over but instead of breaking up the soil with the spade yourself allow snow and ice to break down soil over winter.
  • Sow green manure on unplanted soil. It adds nutrients and cuts down on weeding.
  • When sowing seeds directly into beds do so in an obvious pattern, that way you know what’s weeds and what’s seedlings.
  • Rules for pruning; prune to just above a node, prune all dead and crossing branches and branches growing in a direction you don’t want. Generally prune no more than a third off and generally prune after flowering, unless the plant flowers on 2nd year wood.
  • To prevent a garden looking ‘bitty’ plant small plants in threes or fives.
  • Plant bulbs in pots and when they’re in flower place them where you need them in the bed, and if you immerse the pot below the soil it looks all the better. Not only does this allow you fill gaps in a new garden it saves you digging up bulbs accidently when they’re dormant.
  • Use polystyrene packing peanuts or lightweight plastic pots in the bottom of large pots to reduce the amount of compost needed to fill them, making them lighter.
  • Sow tomato plants on their side to encourge a stronger root.
  • Line hanging baskets with nappies or sponges to help retain water or mix the moisture-aborbing crystals found in nappies with the soil before planting. (from
  • Don’t have a wheelbarrow? Then use a sheet to move heavy objects across event ground. (From

Pick 3 key flowers for each season and base your planting scheme around them. I spread the three around the garden to prevent blank spots. Here is a list of some of my favorite easy-to-grow plants and when they flower in my garden in Dublin, Ireland;

  • February – Hellebore, Snowdrops, Cornus
  • March – Daffodils, Crocus, Iris,
  • April – Tulips, Primroses, Camelia, Bluebells, Magnolia,
  • May – Aquilega, Scabiosa, Campanula, Dicentra, Astilbe
  • June – Delphinium, Aliums, Astrantia, Dicentra
  • July – Hydrangea, Angel Rods, Campanula, Astrantia
  • August – Fushia, Russian Sage, Hydrangea, Dahlia
  • Sept – Fushia, Japanese Anemone, Hydrangea, Kaffir Lilly,
  • Oct – Heather, Nerine Lillys


Ps – I found this great blog post listing the Best 25 plants to grow.


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