Work Smarter, Not Harder

We have learned a lot over the years of landscaping and maintaining this yard. Things that now seem like a no-brainer way of doing things, were figured out usually in the hardest way. Yes, some of these may seem like such a simple, logical things to do, but in talking to others, or watching at local compost facilities, we see that they truly can be elusive tricks. So here is some shared knowledge to some of the beginner landscapers, gardeners or yard junkies.

Compost facility waste

This one is a super simple trick that eluded us for a few years. We also notice that almost no one uses this trick…or at least we don’t see evidence of it when we are dropping off the compost. I am fairly certain we learned by watching someone else at the compost facility and thought “DUH!”.

With a truck, we just piled stuff into the back and then spent a large amount of time transfering it from the truck to the compost grounds. Usually, involving one of us getting into the truck and pushing with the pitch fork, etc. Very time consuming. We are now the people that can pull up, dump and be gone in less than 5 minutes.

This simple trick…line your bed with a tarp. We have specific yard waste tarps now, because they can get a little grungy quite quickly, but so worth it. We got a tarp that was twice as wide as the truck so that we could flip it over the waste. It is also, slightly longer than the truck bed so that it goes up the front and back of the bed. We pre-hook our bungee cords onto the truck bed anchors before laying out the tarp. This help us avoid having to try to get our hands inside the truck bed when it is full.

We line the truck bed with the tarp, making sure it comes up all sides. Gather all the yard waste in the back, making sure that the tarp doesn’t slide down the sides. Once ready, we wrap the excess over the top and add some bungies or tie downs, depending on what we are hauling. Then we are off.

Once at the compost facility, we take the ties off and Kurt and I both grab one back corner. From there we pull until the tarp is halfway out. At this point, we grab the top two corners and pull towards us, keeping it above the bottom two corners. Then we work to flip the tarp so that it is almost standing up at the back of the truck. From there, we kick the bottom of the tarp with our feet and push the rest of it with our bodies until everything goes over the edge.

Then we fold up the tarp and leave. There is almost never any mess to cleanup on the sidewalk at the facility and the back of the truck is generally clear of debris thanks to the tarp. We have also done this with tree branches and larger wood, and it works just as well, if not a bit more effort to pull the tarp out due to the weight of the material.

Trust us, it is a game changer in getting rid of compostable materials.

Drip feeding

We have a very large garden and yard. If you have been following recently, you will know that the entire thing has been weed central with the rainy spring and early summer we had. In a normal year, we only battle a small amount of weeds for a short time. This year it has been crazy. Eventually, it will be even more manageable when we have the very bottom of the yard landscaped, but even the garden beds have been bad this year.

How have we avoided this in the past during a “normal” growing season. Drip feeders. Very few sprayers are used in the garden. If we can water our plants with drippers, then we do so. This helps reduce our wasted water, as well as not watering the weeds.

It must be expensive to hire someone to set it all up right? NO! This was actually something we did ourselves and it was much easier than we would have imagined. We have a large 1/4 acre property that is majority garden space. 3/4 of our backyard was undeveloped with no water run. So we did it. And we run everything off a simple 4-zone Melnor outdoor irrigation timer. Now, were there some learning curves? ABSOLUTELY. Did we do it without hiring someone? ABSOLUTELY.

You can read about it as well as find a list of all the items we purchased to complete the task on our blog post “Breaking Ground” from 2016. The best part is other than a few adjustments as we have finished areas of landscaping, the system has been running beautifully since the day we installed it.

We love how well drip feeding works, that we have added it to a bunch of different areas in our yard, including our flower barrels. Each barrel has a small drip feeder that provides more than enough water to keep those barrel plants happy. You can read that process on our post “Let the Water Flow”. Anywhere that we can, we have added drip irrigation to.

We actually still have 1 zone that we have not used, which we will likely run to a spigot at the bottom of the yard so that we can have a tap down at the bottom. It is easy and completely worth it!

The Right Tools

It is really easy to get caught up in all the different tools you think you may need. We did, and really, we barely use half of them on a yearly basis. But there is one tool that is excellent that I have to encourage you to consider. It is a yard cart. Kinda like a wheelbarrow, but soooo much better. In fact, I love ours so much, that when we had to replace it, I wrote a blog post about the new one and comparisons to our first one, called “The Beast“.

There is definitely a use for a traditional wheelbarrow, but in 7 years of maintaining, gardening and landscaping our yard, we have only ever used this cart. It is so much more versatile and does so many great things. I won’t get into all the details because I already did that in the above noted blog post, but it is the most used tool in our yard.

Some other tools that we generally use on a regular basis:

  • Garden shears
  • Garden set (hand shovels for planting mostly)
  • Hedge trimmer (only important if you have hedges)
  • Garden gloves (we use some with rubber finger and palm pads to save the skin & nails)
  • String (helpful for tying up plants)

That is about it. Sure, we have other tools that we need for landscaping the yard, but once that is done, we will likely only use those tools in the shop when building stuff. They aren’t really garden tools so much as home maintenance. Great to have, but not always necessary.

Those are the three biggest tips that we have from our fumbling and bumbling through landscaping our dream yard and learning as we go. I imagine by the time we are done landscaping the yard we will have a bunch of other great tips, which of course we will share. Then we will have to focus on becoming master gardeners. Luckily the joy of a yard and garden is never ending, so we will always have something to putter away with.


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Great tips, thanks for sharing! We’ve struggled with the heat. It’s been too hot for us to garden much the past few summers.


    1. JP says:

      The heat is such a challenge. As much for the gardeners as for the plants! Hopefully you are able to find some indoor plants to grow.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, we actually have about 40-50 houseplants. 🙂 We love our little jungle. A lot of them I’ve rescued from (what I call) the “half dead” section (clearance) at stores.

        Thanks for understanding and validating. We definitely enjoy gardening and want to get back out there!


      2. JP says:

        That’s awesome! It’s nice to hear that you have saved so many plants 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah! We name them, too. It’s especially neat to see when some of them flower. I hope one day to see our now very large corn flower plant flower one day. The flowers are supposed to smell very bad, however haha.


      4. JP says:

        I love that you give them names. I hope your corn flower plant flowers as well. Fingers crossed that the flowers aren’t too terrible.

        Liked by 1 person

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