With three kids and a full-time job (and then some), my gardening time is precious to me. It’s a treat to escape the hurly-burly of my life and go out in the yard for a bit, dig in the dirt, enjoy my flowers or pick some produce for dinner.

Garden shed

Organize your garden tools in one spot so you’ll have more time to putter in the garden.

Photo Credit: Chris Lofty

Early girl tomato

Invite a friend over to help you tend to your garden, then share the harvested benefits of what you grow together.

Photo Credit: Jessie Keith

Mulch and fork

Mulch is one of the best ways to cut down on weeding and watering time in your garden.

Photo Credit: Platinum Pictures

Bleeding heart perennial

Using perennials for color instead of annuals saves a lot of extra planting time – and money – in the garden.

Photo Credit: Gerald L. Klingaman

So I like to use my limited time in my garden well and get a lot done. Sure, sometimes I like to go out and just aimlessly putter, but most of the time I’m a woman on a mission!

If your gardening story sounds similar, here are some of my favorite time-saving tips you can use to help get more done in your own gardens – in less time:

  • Keep a quickie garden kit at the ready. By my back door, I have a beautiful trug basket I got as a Mother’s Day present. I keep gloves, hand shears, my favorite weeding tool and a few other essentials inside, right next to my garden shoes. (Of course, you don’t need a trug – you can use a bucket, bag or any other sturdy container.) So when I do have a little time to garden, I just grab it and go – no time wasted assembling what I need.
  • Keep your tools organized and in good working order. Nothing slows you down – or is more discouraging – than tools and supplies that you can’t find or that are a mess. This is a great chore to tackle in early spring when you’re itching to get out in the garden.
  • Invest in a garden apron. Half the time I don’t feel I can garden without changing my clothes. But an apron lets me get out there and do some dirty work without messing up the nice clothes I might be wearing from the office or a meeting.
  • Keep a garden journal – and it doesn’t have to be a fancy one. Even if it’s just your kid’s old spiral notebook, it’ll work as a good central spot to collect all your garden information: a few notes here and there on your garden, seed packets, the full name of all your plants (and maybe some photos), an envelope to hold receipts (in case you need any refunds) and a list of what blooms when. This is also a great place to keep any helpful articles you’d like to have on reference.
  • Remember that garden maintenance is like housework: If you let it pile up, it’ll be much harder to clean up. (Plus, it looks like heck most of the time.) So go out in your garden – even for just 10-15 minutes a day – to enjoy it and do a little weeding and watering along the way. It’s a great activity right before work, over your lunch hour if you can, or a nice way to unwind at the end of the day. (It’s my favorite evening activity with a glass of wine nearby!)
  • Consider a lawn service. If you apply chemicals to your lawn on your own already, compare the price of doing it yourself with the cost of a local service. There’s often amazingly little difference, plus there’s a huge time savings when someone does the lawn care for you – and you know it’ll always be done at the optimum time. If you prefer organic lawn care practices, shop around – there are usually lawn companies in your area that offer this service as well.
  • Seek out two-in-one products. Some pre-emergent herbicides also have fertilizers added. Some rose fertilizers also have built-in insecticides. You’ll spend half the time at half (or near half) the cost.
  • Garden with a buddy. Do your garden center shopping with a friend. Invite someone over to help tackle a garden project with you with the agreement that you’ll then help her – or share the benefits of what you grow together (think fruits, veggies, herbs and cutflowers). This way you get to spend quality time with friends and work through your garden to-do list!
  • Don’t neglect fall cleanup. Come fall, many of us are ready to throw in the trowel. But keeping up with weeding, watering and cleaning frees up more time for you come spring, when the crush of garden chores are upon you.

Just following a few of these tips is sure to save you hours each and every growing season so you can put that time to really good use – actually relaxing and enjoying the garden space you work so hard to maintain!