By Jenny Peterson

The longer I garden, the more I collect tips from other gardeners that help me garden better, more quickly, or more efficiently. I love having that moment in garden chitchat when one of us exclaims, “I didn’t know that!” or “That’s a great idea!” Here are some of the best garden tips I’ve collected over the years. Some I learned from friends, others from my landscape crew, and still others I found on my own.

-Rinse rock before you use it. Most of the rock that is bought at a rock yard or in bags at the nursery has some dirt or silt on it. Add that to your garden or potted plants before watering, and you’ll wind up with a muddy-looking mess. Put the rock into a garden pot with a drainage hole in the bottom, and rinse it well with your hose before placing in the garden.

-Clean your tools after each use. A simple wiping off will suffice in most cases-remove excess dirt, grass, and other debris to avoid tracking it into your shed or garage. A more thorough cleaning and sharpening should be done annually, but more regular cleaning will minimize blade-dulling residues.

-Dig a trench before installing edging. Trying to hammer steel, plastic, or recycled edging into the ground is difficult at best. Take a little extra time to dig a shallow trench the length of your landscape bed, and then install the edging according to directions.

-Have a plan when pruning. Avoid grabbing your clippers and cutting tree and shrub branches without a plan. Prune for health, shape, and aesthetics.

-Lay out a plastic tarp when having landscape materials delivered. Large amounts of soil, mulch, and rock have to be dumped somewhere, whether it’s in your driveway or on the street by the curb. Cleanup will go much quicker if you lay out a tarp for the materials to be placed upon.

-Take five minutes a day to weed. Five minutes doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up, helping you to avoid spending an entire Saturday morning on your hands and knees. Remember to get the roots so the weeds don’t grow back as quickly.