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5 Ways to Have a Better Garden This Year

5 Ways to Have a Better Garden This Year

By Therese Ciesinski, GardenSMART

Skip those New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier and get more exercise. Instead, think about the actions you can take this coming year to make the garden that lives in your imagination a reality. Here are five gardening resolutions to consider. I’ve made all of them, some more than once!

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Take photos and evaluate your space. I’m not suggesting you take pretty pictures, but “working” photos. Take them every month of the year, even (or especially) when your garden doesn’t look its best. Shoot from different angles – looking down, up, and at ground-level – and locations: From the street, from the windows of your house, the deck or patio, plus from property lines and neighbors’ properties, if possible. Photos can reveal what the eye can’t readily see: overgrown plants, gaps that need filling, or plants that are blocking others. They’ll confirm what’s working, too!

Nurture the soil. It’s more than just a medium to hold a plant upright. Soil helps provide nutrients, moisture, beneficial microbes, fungi; almost everything plants need to thrive. Exclusively using liquid fertilizer and not enriching the soil is like giving plants Red Bull instead of a balanced diet. Healthy soil makes for healthy plants that can resist pests and disease. Whether its compost, chopped leaves, or aged manure, plan on adding organic material into your perennial and vegetable beds this year.

Cull the weak. If a plant is not performing, grit your teeth, grab a shovel, and take it out. I know, it’s tough to give up on plants that just don’t work. We want to give them one more chance (and maybe another, and another…), even if a plant isn’t growing well, is diseased, or has become too big for its space. Take a deep breath and shovel prune plants that struggle or don’t look good next to their neighbors. Worried you’ll have regrets? You can always pot up the plant, nurture it along, and replant if it bounces back.

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Try something new. Never planted a fruit tree? Give it a go. Or maybe it’s a vegetable you eat (Brussels sprouts?) but have never grown. It could be a perennial or shrub that’s not reliably hardy in your zone, but you’ve got a spot with a microclimate that just might work. Starting plants from seed is fun if you haven’t tried it. Learning new gardening techniques and sharpening your skills is what keeps gardening interesting.

Make a change, even a small one. Identify something that bothered you about last year’s garden. Make a plan to fix it, even if it you need to do it in baby steps. It doesn’t need to be major; you don’t need to redesign your entire landscape to have a satisfying garden. Besides, gardens are forever a work in progress. That’s what makes being a gardener so rewarding.


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