If you put together a list of common gardening tools, a tarp might not come to mind. But, for moving materials such as shrub trimmings or leaves, a tarp can be a great time saver; and it might even save you from having an aching back too!
If you’re not already a regular tarp user, here is a short list of techniques you might want to try.
1. Collecting materials from the lawn. If you need to gather grass clippings to mulch your garden, or round up leaves for composting, place a tarp on the ground and rake the materials directly onto it. Once you get a good load on the tarp, just drag it where you need to and dump the materials by flipping or rolling the
tarp over. If you happen to load the tarp to the point that it’s difficult to drag away, use a rope or chain to tie the tarp behind your riding mower/tractor (if available) and sip a cold beverage as you ride away with your organic bounty in tow. No more repetitive stooping and lifting to load lawn materials in a wheelbarrow!
2. Trimming shrubs. Place a tarp directly under the plant(s) that you’ll be pruning. As you work, most of the cuttings will automatically fall on the tarp below. When you’re through pruning, just drag the tarp away. No more picking up the pieces after pruning!
3. Truck Bed Liner & Unloader. The next time you haul bulk items (mulch, manure, gravel, etc…) in a pickup
truck, line the bed with a tarp before you load in the material. That can save a lot of time and cleanup. Because, when you unload enough of the material that what remains on the tarp is at a manageable weight, you can empty the rest of the truck just by pulling the tarp out. No more tedious shoveling or sweeping to
4. Compost Cover. There may be times when you want to cover your compost pile with a tarp; either
to retain moisture and help keep the outside of the pile from drying out, or to exclude moisture by preventing rain from saturating the pile.
5. Plant Protector. If you use a pickup truck or trailer to haul trees and shrubs home from the nursery, cover or "wrap" the plants with a tarp before you head off down the road. That can make a huge difference in getting your new investment home safely, by preventing the leaves and stems from being shredded by highway winds. Just be sure that the tarp is tightly secured, as a tarp that's left to "flap in the breeze" can cause mechanical damage if allowed to whip against the plants.
Note that for the first three items I listed, you’ll be subjecting the tarp to some abuse by dragging it around. I
recommend using an old tarp that’s already “seen better days”, unless you don’t mind putting some wear-and-tear on a newer tarp.
What other gardening or landscaping uses have you found for a tarp? Please share your tip(s) by posting a comment on this blog.
blog entry by Mark Murphy, CMG
Inevitably with the warmer weather, we will see more and more critters with four, six, eight or even more legs in our gardens. But wait! Not all of them are bad! Some insects and other animals are actually beneficial for your garden. Some of them for example pollinate blossoms to help plants to grow fruits, seeds, and vegetables. Some improve the soil by burrowing through the surface layers and others feed on pest insects or dead plant material that may become a threat to your plants.
So before you go through the trouble and expense of trying to get rid of all the critters in your gardens, let’s take a look at some beneficials that we definitely want to make welcome in our gardens and hope they come back next year too. Here are some that will help you to keep the bad ones in check:
Blog by: Sabine Ehlers, CMG
So, you can’t seem to get a compost pile going at home. Maybe neighborhood restrictions prohibit it, or perhaps you're struggling to pick a suitable location on your lot. Well, if you have a garden, even if it’s a small one, you can still recycle things like spent vegetation and peelings from the kitchen. How? By practicing trench composting; also known as sheet composting or row composting.
It’s so simple, just dig a hole (or trench) about a foot deep, anywhere in the garden that you’re not growing a crop. Pour in a layer of compostable organic matter, about 6 inches deep, and then top that off with the soil that you had removed from the hole. You’re done! That’s right, there is no need for the maintenance that a regular compost pile might require, such as watering and aeration.
In a relatively short amount of time, usually within a couple of months, the buried organics will decompose and enrich the surrounding soil. You can then rotate a planting into that area, and select a new location for your next trench.
<---- Compostable organic materials in the trench,
ready to be covered with soil.
If space allows, you may wish to dig the trench in advance, either as a straight row or as a "block" section of a bed. That makes it convenient to fill the trench in stages, by pouring in compostables whenever you need to, gradually filling the trench over time. If space is limited, or if you don’t generate a lot of material to compost, you might find it more convenient to just bury small batches when you have enough organics to make it worthwhile to dig a small hole.
Extra tip: mulch it too! After you've buried the organic materials, don't leave exposed soil on top; cover with a layer of mulch. Over time, that adds even more organic matter to your garden soil. And, if you dig the trench in advance, keep it covered with mulch to prevent erosion by wind and rain.
If you had concerns about neighbors seeing or smelling your compost, try this stealth alternative. No odor, out of sight, and out of mind … keep that valuable organic matter out of the landfill, and start enriching your garden soil by trench composting.
blog entry by Mark Murphy, CMG