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New Year, New Garden

The start of a new year is always a time for reflection and anticipation. We look back on the year gone by and marvel at all that happened. We look ahead to the year to come and form plans to make it a good one. When it comes to gardening and landscaping, this process of evaluation and planning is critical to our growth as plant people. Here are my tips for making this year’s horticultural adventures even better than last year’s:

Looking back

  • The Good: What exceeded your wildest expectations? If you did something that was very successful, spend some time exploring what made it work so well. You might be able to do even better this year, and lessons learned from that success can probably be applied to other gardening ventures. 
  • The Bad: What failed spectacularly? If you’re not killing any plants, you’re probably not learning much. By spending some time examining the worst outcomes in your garden, you can probably identify some easily-avoided pitfalls for the coming season. My watermelon patch fell far short of expectations last year, so I’ll be digging into what went wrong there, so to speak.
  • The Memorable: What did you see or learn about last year that you’ve just got to try your hand at? Inspiration is all around us, whether in a neighbor’s landscape, a gardening article, or a hike in the mountains. Make a list of the things that caught your attention last year so you can work them into this year’s plans. Don’t forget to scroll through your phone’s photo album – you’d be surprised how many things you snapped pictures of and then forgot about!

Looking ahead

  • Planning: Make a plan. It may seem tedious, but it is incredibly helpful. If you’re anything like me, you can get caught in analysis paralysis, where you’ve got too many ideas and you get stuck, unable to decide which one to pursue. Organize your ideas, and you can navigate your inspirations more easily. Plus, a plan can always be modified, so you need not miss out on something down the road. 
  • Budgeting: Starting the year with a budget is a great way to ensure you get to try all the projects on your plan. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to overspend on one project, leaving your funds too tight to do anything else. Of course, a budget is just like a plan – it can be modified if you discover your foresight wasn’t as crystal clear as you’d hoped. 
  • Something New: Challenge yourself, if only a little bit. Try a new plant you’ve never grown. Be more consistent in watering and fertilizing. For myself, my plan is to plant a more manageable vegetable garden – I tend to start the year with tons of enthusiasm, and by the end of the year my garden is a weedy mess I can’t hope to keep up with, so my challenge this year will be to exercise self control when my excitement levels are high.
  • Wiggle Room: Be sure to leave some space in your plans and budgets for the unknown. Every exploration in the garden leads to new questions and new ideas. While it’s good to see a project through to the end, it’s also important to allow yourself the flexibility to follow the occasional impulse. 

It goes without saying that each year is a fresh start in a garden. Sure, we have the outlines of last year’s garden guiding our steps in the year to come and many plants will return one year to the next. However, each new season brings about new challenges and new opportunities. Like your landscape, you’ve grown, you’ve adapted, and you will thrive!

Originally published on January 6th, 2021.