New Year, New Garden

Happy gardening New Year! Although I’ve never been one to make (or keep!) many New Year’s resolutions, one of the things the past few years has taught me is how important and essential it is to both my mental and physical health to spend time outdoors.

If you’re like me, the cold days of January are a good time to take a long, hard look at the things you might want to change in your yard in the coming year in order to more fully enjoy the time you’ll spend there this spring and summer. Many may be fairly simple changes that can be accomplished with a little elbow grease and perhaps a helping friend or two but could make a big difference in the way you use and enjoy your yard.

Over the past two years, we found that the time spent outside meant that we found parts of our yard that we really didn’t like as well anymore. Some of the shrubs had overgrown. Some just weren’t as we envisioned them when we planted them years ago. So we did exactly what I’m telling you to do – we cleaned house.

For example, a long time ago, our flower beds were w-a-y too big. So we cut about 20 feet of the front of them. I had an enormous bed of beautiful cosmos in the front yard, but they had re-seeded too densely. When we pulled them out to make the bed smaller, we found shrubs that we had forgotten we had planted, struggling to survive underneath the cosmos. So the cosmos was manicured back to a manageable size plot and we learned that downsizing works as well for flower beds as it does for houses in order to keep life manageable.

Perennials are often the plants of choice because many gardeners view them as a plant once and done solution. That isn’t always the case though because the problem with perennials is that after a few years, it’s time to dig them up and divide them. My perennials now get severe haircuts or get dug up and divided each year to keep them under control. Although I know it’s painful for many people to take a shovel to them, don’t be afraid to do so. Your yard will look better and the plants will be healthier in the long run.

Don’t be afraid to remove other plants that have overgrown or outlived their place. We had junipers along the front of our house that had gotten so overgrown, old, brown and knarly, as they sometimes do, that we could walk all over them and not do any harm. They also were a magnet for spider mites, so out they came last summer. That bed is currently resting, but I’m pleased with how tidy that area now appears.

New Year’s is a time for resolutions, new plans, and changes in the way we live our lives. In view of the events of the past few years, I’d venture a guess to say that almost everyone has spent more time outdoors. Homes have become sanctuaries for many of us and it’s a perfect time to think about how to plan those changes in order to create the haven you’ll love.