If your garden is a reasonable size, has good soil, and contains low-maintenance perennials, you will probably need to spend no more than two or three hours a week maintaining it. Your chores will be divided into two kinds: ensuring the health of your garden, and maintaining its appearance. After protecting your garden's health, your personal tastes will determine how much time you devote to making your garden look good. Staking, reviewing color schemes, deadheading, and mulching are all important garden beautifiers.
Pinching is a grooming practice that produces compact, bushy plants. To pinch a plant, remove the growing tip of a stem by nipping it between your thumb and forefinger. Each single pinched stem will divide into two stems.
Pinch spring- and early-summer-blooming plants very early in the growing season. If you pinch too late you may inadvertently remove flower buds. The stems of late-summer and fall bloomers should be cut back -- usually to no more than 1 foot -- in late spring. Numerous side shoots develop from these shorn plants and eventually, these all bear flowers. Pinch fall bloomers, such as mums, no later than July; these plants need the end-of-summer growing season to set flower buds.
A great low maintenance perennial? Ornamental grasses; click here to learn more.
Continued on page 2: Watering Your Garden