Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Don’t Tiptoe Through the Tulips!

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Photo: http://www.gardeningknowhow.com

Memorable song, bad idea! You should try not to tiptoe, stride, walk, salsa, or even creep through a flower bed. Yes, I know you’ve just lost 20 pounds and are as light as a feather, but walking or standing on soil compacts it, causing it to harden if it contains any clay particles at all and, even it if doesn’t, reducing the space available for oxygen and water to reach plant roots. The more you walk through a garden, the worse the soil gets. And this of course impacts the plants that grow there: they do much better in well-aerated, non compacted soil.

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Photo: http://www.ediblelandscapingmadeeasy.com

Since there will be times when you’ll have to get into a flower bed (to plant, weed, chase that damn groundhog, etc.), the simple solution is to provide stepping stones: flat stones or slabs where you always put your feet when you’re in the garden. Each should be large enough for two of your feet (size 14s will need rather large stones!), as you may need to put both feet on them when you’re crouching down to weed. The stepping stones don’t have to form an in-your-face path or even lead anywhere in particular: they just need to be placed where they can allow access to the bed, everywhere in the bed. In most flower beds, your stepping stone path will quickly be hidden by dense plant growth, but the important thing is that you, the gardener, know where the steps are and stick to them whenever you need to set your feet in the garden!

From now on, then, try steppy-stoning through the tulips!

Garden writer and blogger, author of more than 60 gardening books, the laidback gardener, Larry Hodgson, lives and gardens in Quebec City, Canada. The Laidback Gardener blog offers more than 2,500 articles to passionate home gardeners, always with the goal of demystifying gardening and making it easier for even novice gardeners. If you have a gardening question, enter it in Search: the answer is probably already there!

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