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This Spring Work Smarter, Not Harder

(ARA) - Spring; with it comes a long list of lawn and garden chores. Whether it's planting a new garden, taking on a landscape project, or just completing routine spring lawn and garden maintenance, already time-starved homeowners can spend countless hours working around the yard rather than enjoying the warmer weather.

Add this to the increasing day-to-day activities people are facing, such as longer work hours, less vacation time and increased family and personal commitments, and you can you see why there's a growing trend toward finding creative ways to balance work, family and leisure activities, including gardening.

Even the government is stepping in to try to help. That's why daylight-saving time is springing forward three weeks earlier than usual this year, and will end a week later, giving Americans an additional four weeks of extended daylight hours to accomplish the many tasks they're rushed to finish on a daily basis.

That's great news for the 91 million U.S. households that participate in some form of outdoor lawn and gardening activities each year (according to the National Gardening Association). To help lawn and gardening enthusiasts make the best use of their time in the yard this spring, Ames True Temper, a leading manufacturer of non-powered garden tools, offers the following time-saving tips:

Develop a Planting Plan.

By the time your garden is prime for planting, you should already have a plan of attack in place. A well-thought-out, detailed sketch serves as the first step in any garden project and helps to ensure everything will go as smoothly, and quickly, as possible during the execution phase. So, do your research early, decide what you're going to plant, how much you'll be planting, where you're going to plant and then purchase your new plants and seeds accordingly.

Arm Yourself with the Appropriate Tools.

Today, there are more tools than ever before designed to save time and effort. These "multi-tasking" lawn and garden tools are valuable because they can be used for more than one job. Not only do they minimize the number of tools you'll need to use, carry and store, but they can also save you time.

According to Darlene SantaCroce, marketing director for Ames True Temper, "Our focus group research confirms that due to the numerous time constraints placed on consumers today, more than ever before, they're interested in multi-purpose garden tools. They view them as a highly effective way to minimize the number of tools they need, and actually consider them must-have items, rather than luxuries. Recognizing that friends and family also struggle to find time for yard work, they also see these kinds of tools as great gift ideas."

The Planter's Buddy from Ames True Temper is a great example. This unique 7-in-1 garden tool gives a whole new meaning to the term "multi-tasking." With its uniquely shaped, durable, stainless steel blades and combination straight and serrated edges, you can use it for transplanting, splitting open soil or mulch bags, weeding, cutting twine or even sod. On the front and side are 12-inch measurement markings for easy measuring of distance when planting. And a poly tamper on the end makes it easy to tamp down wood stakes, markers, or even fertilizer spikes. Everything is specially engineered and weighted for optimum performance. And it's all in one convenient, easy-to-carry tool.

Inspect Your Yard.

Before you even begin tilling or planting be sure to start with a clean slate. If you have to stop what you're doing every few minutes to weed, prune or trim back existing plants and shrubs, you may double or even triple the time you're in the garden or yard. So, take care of these items beforehand.

Stop Weeds Before They Start. It's never too early to begin weeding. Any weed that appears early in the spring season will be much easier to pull than if it's given a chance to mature. Better yet, prevent weeds from sprouting by using a pre-emergent in early spring. It will save you hours of time weeding later in the season.

Prepare Your Lawn and Beds.

Once the clean-up aspect is addressed, it's time to prepare your lawn and soil beds for optimum, low-maintenance performance. To nourish your lawn, be sure to use a high-quality fertilizer. Several fertilizers on the market work using only two steps instead of the traditional four. Also be sure to use a high-quality grass seed to fill in bare spots, since cheaper varieties likely contain more weed seeds, which will create more work in the future. Cover newly seeded areas lightly to prevent birds from eating the seed.

Before working in your gardening beds, use a home soil test kit to check the pH levels, then enrich the soil as necessary by adding lime sulfur. Once the pH levels are addressed, spread a 4-inch layer of compost and cultivate it at least 8-12 inches deep. When the weather warms up and the last frost has safely passed, usually around May 15 depending on the region, you'll be ready to plant.

No matter what lawn and gardening projects you might be tackling this spring, remember it's always better to work smarter, rather than harder. Routine maintenance and pre-project know-how can be the key to saving your spring and providing you with a beautiful summer.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

For more information on getting ready this Spring, please read this article Spring Maintenance for Your Sprinkler System.

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