3 Garden Projects to Do This Labor Day

From starting a raised bed garden to cover cropping and more, these weekend garden projects are bound to keep you busy and active outdoors over Labor Day weekend.

a gloved hand uses a small shovel to dig a hole in a raised bed filled with fresh soil and small lettuce starts.

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Labor Day weekend is the perfect summer send-off, allowing you and your family to soak up the outdoors before cool weather kicks in. And what better way to get active outdoors than getting busy in the garden? If you’re ready to tackle some Labor Day garden projects this weekend, we’re here to help!

Whether you want to take on a tough garden project that you just haven’t found the time for or get a head start on fall gardening, here are a few easy projects to try.

Start A Raised Bed Garden

Close-up of a garden of many raised beds. Raised metal beds come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors including white, black and green. Various crops such as radishes, beets, lettuce and others grow on raised beds.
Start the raised bed trend this Labor Day for space-saving gardening with customized plant conditions.

If you haven’t yet jumped in on the raised bed trend, Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to start this garden project.

Although raised beds are certainly not new, their popularity has increased for several years for a few reasons.

For starters, they are great space-savers for urban gardens or options for renters who don’t have the opportunity to plant in-ground. They also reduce strain on your back and knees if you spend much time in the garden planting or weeding.

Raised beds also offer benefits for the plants themselves. Full soil control allows you to tailor conditions to your specific plants, providing exactly what they need for strong root health. Raised beds also offer better drainage, limiting your chances of rot.

Labor Day weekend gives you enough time to plan out your raised bed garden, decide on your materials, and set them up, ready for planting as soon as the weekend is up.

Getting Started

Starting a raised bed garden is not a complicated process, but it requires some planning to avoid mishaps. Follow these easy steps to get it right:

Choose Your Materials

Close-up of a timber framing for a raised bed. The frame consists of horizontally folded oblong rectangular planks of light polished wood.
Raised beds come in various materials like wood, concrete, and metal.

Raised beds can be made from many materials, from wood to concrete and even metal. For DIY lovers, wood or concrete are suitable if you have the tools to build them yourself.

If you want something a little more low-maintenance, Birdie’s raised beds are easy to set up with no power tools required. They are made out of galvanized steel with an Aluzinc coating to withstand the elements easily.

Choose a Location

Close-up of a large gray metal raised bed in a garden. The raised bed has a rectangular shape with rounded edges and a ribbed surface. Various types of lettuce grow on a raised bed.
Choose bed placement considering both space utilization and environmental factors.

Next, you must decide where and how to place your beds. While maximizing space is important, you also need to consider the environment before you begin.

If you want to grow fruits and vegetables, your beds should be in full sun. Also, keep them in a spot that’s easy to access for quick care and harvesting.

Building

Close-up of male hands attaching a bubble wrap to a raised bed with a stapler. The gardener is dressed in an olive sweatshirt. The raised bed is made of dark wood.
For DIY beds, precise measurements prevent gaps.

The building step will vary depending on the materials you’ve chosen. If you’re making your own beds, measure carefully to ensure you can access plants from all sides, avoiding empty gaps in the center. For heavier materials, build the bed in place to avoid moving it later.

Filling

Close-up of a gardener filling a raised bed with fresh soil. The raised bed is wooden, filled with a thick layer of wood shavings. The gardener is dressed in gray trousers, a gray sweatshirt and black boots.
To prep for planting, fill taller beds with decomposable materials, homemade compost, and potting soil.

Finally, you need to fill your beds to prepare for planting. Taller beds can be filled with organic materials like logs or sticks, old leaves, and any other garden waste that will break down over time. Add a thick layer of homemade compost and fill the remaining space with potting soil, ready to plant in.

As a general rule, most plants need at least 6-8 inches of good-quality soil to grow in. Some plants set even deeper roots; if you’re growing a massive daikon radish, having up to 20 inches of soil may be required! We recommend aiming for a nice, 10″-deep soil profile if your beds are 15″ or deeper for most plants, but if you know you’ll be planting deep-taprooted varieties, consider going deeper.

Cover Cropping

Close-up of a flowering field of Buckwheat. Buckwheat is a plant with distinctive heart-shaped leaves and clusters of small white to pink fragrant flowers. The leaves are dark green, glossy, with smooth edges. The flowers are small, collected in clusters at the tops of the stems.
For time-efficient garden enhancement, consider cover cropping during fall and winter to improve soil health and fill empty spaces.

For my fellow lazy gardeners, you may not want to spend your entire weekend gardening. But that doesn’t mean you can’t complete a Labor Day garden project that boosts soil health and improves your garden with almost no effort – cover cropping.

Cover cropping is an ideal way to fill empty gaps in your garden over the fall and winter months. If you have no plans for fall planting or haven’t quite decided what you want to grow yet, planting a cover crop will fill gaps with greenery, boosting soil health at the same time.

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Cover Cropping Benefits

Close-up of a Crimson clover in bloom in the garden, against a blurred white fence. Crimson clover is a plant known for its striking elongated flower heads in vibrant shades of red and crimson. The plant produces thin, upright stems with trifoliate leaves that are divided into three leaflets and are V-shaped.
Cover cropping improves soil health, prevents erosion, smothers weeds, and requires minimal maintenance.

The many benefits of cover cropping make it worth the very little effort required.

Soil health is one element, especially if parts of your garden will be exposed over the fall. Cover crops improve soil texture, nutrient availability, and overall health by:

  • Aerating the soil – particularly cover crops with long tap roots
  • Preventing excess drying and compaction
  • Smothering weeds
  • Holding soil together and preventing erosion, especially on slopes
  • Adding nitrogen back into the soil
  • Deterring certain pests

The benefits will depend on which cover crops you grow, so tailor your choices to your intended goals.

Along with these benefits, filling your backyard with lush greenery will create a far better landscape than leaving the soil empty. Plus, the plants require little attention, making it a low-maintenance way to fill space.

Plants To Use

Close-up of a field of Fava beans. Fava beans, also known as broad beans, are notable for their large, broad leaves and clusters of bell-shaped flowers. The leaves are bright green, oval in shape. The flowers are small, white, followed by long green pods containing beans.
Quick-growing cover crops break down rapidly, enhancing soil and releasing nutrients.

Plants used as cover crops grow quickly and break down quickly. This allows you to clear beds quickly whenever you’re ready, adding nutrients into the soil as the organic matter breaks down. Many are also nitrogen-fixers and have deep roots to hold the soil together.

Crops that add nitrogen to the soil include hairy vetch, crimson clover, peas, and fava beans. Other crops like buckwheat and oats are great for suppressing weeds and preventing erosion, while mustard can help limit soil-borne fungi and nematodes. Plus, many of the flowers of these crops attract pollinators to your garden at the same time.

If you don’t have a specific crop in mind, you can also find cover cropping mixes containing various seeds from different species. Look for mixes designed for planting in the fall to be ready for Labor Day.

How To Do It

Close-up of a gardener's hands in green gloves holding clover seeds against a blurred background of soil with sown seeds. Seeds are small, rounded, orange and yellow. There is also a transparent bag of seeds and a garden rake lie on the ground.
Sow seeds generously in the chosen space, ensuring dense growth.

The cover cropping process couldn’t be simpler.

Grab your seeds and sprinkle generously once you’ve identified the space you want to fill. Don’t worry about spacing seeds – you want the growth to be dense and lush. Try to spread them as evenly as you can to avoid any gaps.

Cover with a light layer of soil or rake the seeds in. Water in slowly and deeply to thoroughly saturate the soil and encourage germination in the seeds.

Then, all there is left to do is wait and enjoy. Your cover crops won’t require much attention, bar the occasional watering if there is limited rainfall. Cut them down when you’re ready to plant again or when the crops have finished flowering but before they start self-sowing seed. Either leave the green material to break down into the soil or add the plant remnants to your compost pile.

Preserve Your Summer Harvest

A woman preserves cucumbers in the kitchen. Close-up of female hands touching a jar of cucumbers. There are also several jars of cucumbers, cloves of garlic and dill on the table.
Transition to fall by preserving the harvest! Freeze berries and can vegetables for extended storage.

As the seasons slowly transition from summer to fall, you will likely be picking the last of some of your summer harvest. But you don’t have to eat all the produce in one go.

If you prefer to spend your weekend in the kitchen, make this Labor Day garden project about preserving fruits and vegetables to last you over the fall months and even into winter.

Freezing is the easiest preservation method suitable for many fruits, mainly berries that will be ready for picking now. To prevent individual fruits or vegetables from sticking together, freeze them on a flat tray before placing them in a freezer-safe bag.

Canning is another popular and homestead-friendly preservation method that extends the life of your produce for months. It is slightly more technical but can help your tomatoes, beans, or asparagus last a year or even longer.

Pickling is likely the first thing to come to mind for freshly harvested cucumbers. However, this method is also ideal for onions, carrots, beans, and watermelon.

And if you plan to use your produce quicker than canning or pickling requires, turn your fresh tomatoes into a delicious sauce or strawberries and raspberries into a delicious jam.

So many options exist for extending your harvest – don’t let your produce go to waste!

Final Thoughts

The garden is the best place to be on Labor Day weekend. Use the time to set yourself up for the fall season, making the upcoming months a breeze.

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A white radish root topped with fresh green leaves is ready to be harvested from the garden bed.

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