Garden tips are a favorite subject with most gardeners — I know they are with me — so here are a few I've found that could help make your gardening experience more enjoyable this year:
Install an outdoor sink
Look for an old bathroom or kitchen sink, with faucets and drain hose still intact, and mount it next to the outdoor spigot at the back of the house. You can purchase a flexible hose with a splitter that will allow you to have both the sink and the garden hose attached at the same time but with separate shutoffs so you can use one or the other. Rather than attaching the sink on the house, which could damage the siding, bury two 2-by-4s or 4-by4s in the ground up next to the house and fasten the sink on them.
To conserve water, drain the water from the sink either directly to the garden or into a bucket or barrel by attaching a flexible hose to the sink drain.
My husband did this several years ago with an old sink from our 100-plus-year-old house, and it has been one of the most used items in my garden. It is so easy for me to wash my hands and containers — even muddy tools, without tracking through the house to do the job. I also wash out my dirt-caked garden gloves at this sink and drape them over the rim of the sink to dry.
Have fun with solar lights
Solar lights are so easy to place here and there in the garden — they are like little fireflies on a dark night when placed strategically but at the same time, randomly. So, do something different with them rather than the little soldiers lining a pathway. Put them in your hanging baskets and containers. There are some very clever variations in solar lights on the market so be creative and have some fun with them.
Relax in an outdoor room
Our gardens are more than just a place to work, they should provide pleasure and a special place to go when we need to relax and rest. Unfortunately many folks forgo having a secluded getaway because they think they need to hire someone to design and build it for them. That isn't possible for many of us, plus I like the idea of recycling items for use in the garden from around the house or from garage sales and thrift shops.
First you need to decide where your outdoor room will be and then set it apart by using screening and container plants to form an entryway and to provide privacy. A local shop where you can find decorative items that would be perfect for this project is The Wood Shack Architectural Antiques at 444 Baker St. Add comfortable seating with lots of throw pillows and a table to set your iced tea or lemonade on — then make a date to visit often, all summer long.
Design your landscape
Be your own landscape architect. Take a picture of an area in your landscape where you think you would like a trellis, gazebo, pergola, or other structure. Print the picture on regular 8 1/2 -by-11-inch paper and then sketch in the object you want to add where you think it would look best. This works very well with any outdoor project and can help you avoid costly mistakes.
Jane Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can read her What’s Bloomin’ blog at www.news-sentinel.com. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.