Since it's time to start plugging annuals in the ground, does anybody have any favorite tips to share? I have three, some of which I have been using for about 20 years:
Discovered this while working at Summerfest in college during "Planting Day" when all the grade school kids come in to plant. We would have equilateral triangles (and you thought you'd never need that high school geometry stuff again, eh?) made out of thin plywood to the recommended distance between the various flower species (i.e. I use a 9" one for impatiens). Set the triangle, dig the holes at the corners, plant, and then flip the triangle to line up with the previous holes and dig your next hole, etc. Easy for kids to use, and it fairly good at keeping things uniform - as long as you pay a little bit of attention. You can paint them and mark them by size if need be.
In bad soil (and even some good) I dig a slightly larger hole and toss a handful of compost (either your own home-made variety or the black stuff from the recycling center). Put the plant in, and then put another handful of compost around it. This gives the plant some good nutrients to start with, and, over time, will help improve bad soil.
Recyclable Log Planters:
On the Garden Gazing Tour a couple of years ago I saw a planter made out of a stump. That gave me an idea: planters made out of hollow logs. So when I find one that is small enough to move and yet has enough rotted material to plant something, set it aside. When I am ready to use it I clean out any rotted material and find a smaller log to fit inside and cut it to half the height of the planter. Then I fill the top with compost and plant(s). I have found they last about three years, depending upon the condition of the log to begin with, and whether or not you store them in the garage over the winter. When the log splits a bit too much to hold the compost, the planter becomes firewood.
Any other tips out there?