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Four time-saving gardening tips from Dawes landscape chief

Every gardener loves a time-saving tip.

And if a tip saves both time and money, then even better.

Peter Lowe, the landscape manager at Dawes Arboretum in Newark, knows all about getting top results with limited time and on a budget.

Although Dawes comprises nearly 2,000 acres, many of his tricks and techniques work beautifully in home gardens. He recently shared a few favorites.

1. Clean the smart way

After a long day working outside, who feels like spending time in the garage cleaning tools?

(Hint: It’s not the person writing this article.)

Lowe suggests a surprisingly cheap and low-tech alternative: Just fill a 5-gallon bucket with builder’s sand and add motor oil or vegetable oil to moisten. Then stick dirty tools with metal blades — such as trowels, pruners and soil knives — into the oily sand.

“The mixture removes rust, extends the sharpness of the blade and removes dirt,” he explained.

2. Use your noodle

If you’ve ever cleaned out a deep container used for growing annual flowers, you probably noticed that the roots didn’t extend to the bottom.

They certainly didn’t need all that expensive potting medium.

Furthermore, a heavy, soil-filled pot can be difficult to move.

Lowe’s solution: foam swimming-pool “noodles” — or styrofoam plates or packing peanuts.

Simply cut up the noodles and place them in the bottom of the pot, then put soil on top.

“It reduces the weight of the container, and you’re not wasting all that soil,” he said.

3. Take measure

“How often do you carry a tape measure out to the garden?” Lowe asked — rhetorically, I think.

Well, um, literally never.

But that’s not to say that I haven’t needed one, especially when planting a tree, because both depth and width of a hole are important factors.

His handy-dandy hack: Using a tape measure as a guide, mark inches and feet on the handle of a shovel.

Voila — one tool for both digging and measuring.

Be sure to use a waterproof pen, such as a Sharpie, so that the marks will last in any weather.

4. Firing away

Weeding can involve tedious work on hands and knees, or the use of herbicides that some gardeners would rather avoid.

A gadget called a weed-burning torch, on the other hand, is operated from a standing position and leaves no chemical residue.

Plus, “It’s fun,” Lowe said.

The hand-held torch connects to a portable propane tank at one end and zaps weeds at the other.

“It’s great for a driveway, pavers or a gravel surface,” he said.

While meditatively pulling weeds by hand can be soothing, annihilating them with a burst of flame is positively empowering.

Hasta la vista, dandelion!

Diana Lockwood, a freelance writer covering gardening topics, posts on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mrsgardenperson.

Article source: http://www.dispatch.com/entertainmentlife/20170226/four-time-saving-gardening-tips-from-dawes-landscape-chief