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Gardens can get out of hand quickly. Ignore a space of dirt for a week in mid-summer, and you will see a fine crop of weeds. Tell yourself you’ll get to raking later and you’ll end up with drifts of leaves everywhere. There is a secret to make yard work easier, though: use the natural world as an ally.
Nature As An Ally
The natural world has its own timetable, and it doesn’t relate to the schedules of humankind. Learning to work with natural events can make your own work much easier.
Weed After A Rain
Don’t break your back trying to weed dry soil. Wait until a rainstorm. The weeds will come out of the ground easily.
(If you can’t wait for rain, say like when you discover a thorn-riddled creeper in a child’s playhouse, use a sprinkler to wet the ground.)
Rake After A Wind Storm
One of my neighbors likes to rake on Saturdays. This is fine unless you have a windy weekend. The wind will move your piles around, as well as add to the debris you are trying to rake. Wait until a calm day to rake. Or…
Mulch, Don’t Bag
Bagging grass is a waste of good organic matter, and a major time addition to mowing a lawn. Mulch the cut grass onto the lawn and let it fertilize the ground. If you don’t want to rake, mulch the fallen leaves onto the lawn as well.
(I personally don’t do this, because raking is a very Zen activity for me, and I enjoy doing it. My husband will mulch them, though.)
Use Native Plants
Plants native to your area are hardy, accustomed to the weather patterns, and well-adapted to the soil and predators. Using non-native plants means extra time you must spend simulating the plant’s native weather and conditions and protecting it from pests it is not used to. Using native plants is the best way to build a low-maintenance garden.
In our area azaleas are native. Palm trees are not. Yet some people fill their yard with palm trees, only to have to wrap them in the winter and warm them if it gets too cold.
Yard work doesn’t have to be back-breaking. Use nature as your ally and you will have a much easier time of it.
Photo by sugarfrizz