Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Commitment of Being a Gardener

Finding the balance between gardening I want to do and gardening I have to do is tricky.  I like to walk my garden and deadhead a daisy or coneflower.  This bit if tidying is rewarding when I look back at the refreshed looking garden.  But when I know that an hour of weeding is before me, I balk at the chore ahead.

Frequently, I get asked for a design plan for a ‘maintenance free’ garden.  Usually this request comes after the yard becomes overgrown, weedy, and unsightly.  Unfortunately, this stage of disrepair is usually too late for the ‘low maintenance’ garden desired.  Because to get the garden back into a reasonable state of acceptance some work is going to be required. 

Many times the trip to the Midas Well is to blame for this dilemma. 
As we gardeners find gratification in a successful project, like these colorful planters, we decide that we ‘might as well’ do something more.

Like planting the whole yard with color!

Or we have a lovely, bubbling urn to send peaceful sounds into the garden.

 imageAnd we ‘might as well’ do this!

We found a great set of lawn furniture and so we ‘might as well’ have somewhere to use it.

And this massive project takes over!

I caution gardeners to beware of this Midas Well thinking.  Because the bigger the project, the more maintenance is required to keep the look you desire. 

Maintenance such as trimming, mowing, watering, edging, raking, deadheading, weeding, and mulching are going to increase as the project gets bigger.  Here is where the commitment to gardening must be demonstrated.  Getting overwhelmed by the constant chores is the cause for many gardeners to throw in the trowel and give up. 

unedged walkways  Unedged walkways becomes unsightly.  Regular trimming is easier than a major dig out and an edged walk is more attractive.
edgingtrimming edge

Trimming or providing a barrier to limit grass from encroaching the garden may need to be considered.

garden-with-stone-edgingUsing stone, brick, wood timbers, or rubber edgings can define the garden as well as keep grass from creeping into the beds.  grass in flower beds
Removing the grass as a recurring nuisance.  Usually the plants need to be dug out, and grass blades removed from the soil before replanting the plant back into it’s space.

overgrown garden

If a well manicured garden is what is desired, remember that the plants grow all season, and that look of a pristine garden will come at a cost of routine trimming.
overgrown shrubs

Overgrown paths, gardens, and shrubbery are overwhelming to many gardeners.  A few tools can make the difference in the difficulty factor of this chore.

in the gardentoday blogHand pruners, loppers, and a short saw can conquer an overgrown mess.

Keeping plants alive through summer heat and drought can really discourage many gardeners.  The hose is too short; the hose gets kinks; the hose tangles up into knots; and the hose drags across the garden and pulls plants out along the way. (Can you tell, I get REALLY frustrated with hoses?!)


Some helpful watering and hose attachments are hose guides placed around corners and edges of the garden.  This is supposed to keep the hose from tearing up the plants.  Also, these quick-snap accessories can help extend a hose , or remove a nozzle easily.
hose guidesquick snap connections

Money enters into the decision making process for the gardener as well.  Tools can be expensive.  Watering the large lawn and garden can add to the monthly household expenses.  If the budget cannot support this added expense, there are a few things that the gardener can do to reduce some of these expenses.

drip irrigationmulch

This picture from the Design Fanatic shows a well place pipe to bring water to the garden.  Mulch is another resource to help reduce water usage in the garden.  The layer of mulch holds moisture in the soil so plants do no need to be watered as often. 

Weeding is another of those chores that most gardeners avoid if possible.  Mulch can not only save on water usage, but can keep weed seeds from germinating; and even if there are a few weeds, their roots are easily pulled from mulch.

A well cared for garden is a delight. But any garden that is overgrown, weedy, or dried up is not a going to thrive and will be avoided.   If other life events carry more weight than the time the garden needs, rethink the scope and size of the gardening project.

If time to garden is limited, do not expand the garden beyond the limits it will take to keep it vibrant.

A gardener has a commitment to the plants, the style, and the on-going maintenance the garden requires.

  Gardening is supposed to be relaxing, rewarding and enjoyable.

Have you reneged on your commitment to your garden?

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