Tips for Getting Work Done

After three days of hard work I’m almost finished preparing a garden bed.  It was a hard-fought victory that taught me tips for getting work done.

We’ve had a mild winter and I looked forward to working with the temperature in the 50’s and 60’s.  Last week the weather changed.  It’s been in the low 40’s with overcast skies and showers.

Landscape Before work Begins - Tips for Getting Work Done
The first thing I do when I arrive at a job is formulate a plan to get the work done.

First, I removed six yards of mulch from around a Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum sp.) and the landscape fabric underneath.  There was too much mulch around the tree.

Mulch over six inches deep - Tips for Getting Work Done
There was over six inches of mulch under the Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum sp.) along with landscape fabric. The mulch and the landscape fabric had to go for the health of the tree.
Removing Mulch Under the Red Maple - Tips for Getting Work Done
Removing excess mulch around the Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum sp.).

The only place to get rid of the mulch was off the property.  That meant loading a wheelbarrow and pushing it up a 15 foot slope to my truck about 40 yards away.

Did I mention this was my first job of the season?  My body is nowhere near conditioned yet.

This afternoon as I finished for the day the sun broke through the clouds.  It was like the heavens opened up and said, “Attaboy John!”

Sun Shines on the Future Garden - Tips for Getting Work Done
In a weird twist of fate the sun broke through the clouds as I was finishing for the day. The line through the bed is a future stepping stone path.

Tips for getting work done

      1. Get started.  Even if you don’t have a plan for how to do the work.  When you start a plan will form in your mind.  I’m talking about a plan to complete the work, not a landscape design.
      2. Congratulate yourself for getting started.  If you the type of person, like me, who occasionally over thinks things don’t beat yourself up for lost time.
      3. Enjoy the work.  I enjoy good “clean” hard work.  Digging, mulching, splitting wood, etc.  I feel energized, albeit exhausted, after a days work.
      4. Break the job into manageable pieces.  I set a goal for each day.  My first day on most jobs the goal is to get to the job and get started.  Once I’m working a plan will form (See step 1).  The second day my goal was to clean up the mulch under the Japanese Maple.  The third day my goal was to finish preparing the bed.  By the third day I gained momentum and prepared another bed.
      5. Take a break if you need one.  Nothing saps productivity like rushing through a job or stressing about a deadline.  It may seem counter productive but you’ll notice big dividends from a break.
      6. Wear comfortable shoes.  A landscaper is only as good as his or her footwear.  If your shoes are heavy you’ll move slowly.  If your feet are wet your day will be miserable.  Some days I bring a couple pair of shoes and a heavy and light weight sweatshirt.  The first two days I wore heavy insulated steel toe boots.  When the sun broke I put my lightweight Muck Boots on and felt like I could fly.  I wear the lightest shoes I can.  The exception is when I need steel toes for safety.
Muck Boots vs Winter Boots - Tips for Getting Work Done
Given the choice I prefer my lighter and more comfortable muck boots.

You started the job.  You’re going to finish it.  That’s all that matters.

I hope these tips for getting work done will help you get through your next job.  Get out there and have fun!

CT Landscaping Tips – December 2013

The end of the 2013 CT landscaping season is here.  Below are some tips to prepare your home and landscape for winter.

In the Landscape

  1. Cut back perennials to prevent the overwintering of insects and disease.  Cut most perennials to the ground.  Some perennials, such as coral bells, should not.  It’s better to post a question below than to cut prematurely.
  2. Cut ornamental grasses 3-6 inches from the ground either now or in late winter.  Here in CT I cut ornamental grasses in the fall, they tend to get beat up and look ratty through the winter.
  3. If you have tree hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata)  it’s OK to prune them once the leaves fall off.  Tree hydrangeas flower on the current seasons growth.  They will bloom next year if pruned this winter.  If you have bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) only cut spent flowers to clean up the shrub, otherwise you’ll be removing next years blooms.

Household Maintenance

  1. Turn off the valves to your hoses on the inside of the house and then open the valves on the outside to drain water.  Once the water drains close them again to prevent accidentally running water all winter if someone turns the wrong valve.  Disconnect and roll up your hoses on a warm day to flush all water from them.  Bring hoses indoors for longest life.  You can keep them coiled, without water inside, outside your home or in the shed or garage over the winter.  If you use the hose over the winter disconnect it and remove all water before coiling it up again.
  2. Is your snow blower tuned up and ready to go?  Do you need to replace any snow shovels before they are all gone?
  3. Have you called the oil company about your winter tune-up?

Might I Recommend

  1. Winter is a great time to prune deciduous trees and shrubs in CT landscapes.  If your landscape needs pruning call today!
  2. Now is the time to begin planning your landscape design if you are thinking about landscaping next year. Spring comes fast.  Now is the time to start the design.
  3. Need firewood?  We have a limited supply available so don’t wait to call.

If you have any questions about your CT Landscape please post them below.

By John Holden