When I got married almost two years ago, I really wanted to try gardening and make our outdoor space a space that I would use and enjoy. It helped that our backyard had a lot of potential. Most of the work was already done. It just needed to be cleaned up a bit. We had a fish pond, a small waterfall, and a lovely Japanese Maple tree. The flower beds were already there. They just needed to be filled in and edged. Even with all of that in place, a lot of work needed to be done. Sometimes I would feel overwhelmed. I didn't know what to do first or if I could even grow anything. Today I'm going to share a few things that have helped me to enjoy working in the garden. Maybe it will help you too!
Set Reasonable GoalsIf you try to get everything finished in one day, you will quickly tire and quite possibly achieve nothing. Instead set small goals that you can accomplish and feel good about. Last year I decided I would focus on the flower beds right around the back of the house. This summer I'm going to focus on fixing up another corner of the yard. Your goals can be even smaller. For example, "tonight I'm going to weed the front of the house" or "today I'm going to prune the bushes."
Work at Moderate PaceWork at a pace that you can get something accomplished but still enjoy your surroundings. If you are working so fast that you can't enjoy the sound of the birds chirping, you are working too fast. Take time to smell the roses. Literally! At our house at 12 noon and 6 o'clock in the evening every day, the town church bells play hymns for fifteen minutes. This is a part of my gardening routine that I have really come to enjoy. If I'm working too fast, the church bells help me to reset.
Work in the Coolest Hours of the Day
If you need to work in the hottest part of the summer, work in the morning hours or the evening hours to spare yourself the noonday sun. (Wear a hat and lots of sunscreen!)
Plant things that have a chance to succeed!I learned this lesson the hard way. If a plant likes the shade, do not plant it in full sun and vice versa. Just because you like a plant, doesn't mean you should grow it in your yard. If you want to be a successful gardener, pay attention to the needs of the plants.
Plant a few vegetables or herbs.This is a great way to enjoy the "fruits" (again, literally! I'm sorry. I couldn't help it!) of your labor. The last few weeks, I've really enjoyed walking out the backdoor and cutting some lettuce and herbs to throw into a salad or onto a sandwich and enjoy. I also suggest planting your herb garden close to the house so it's easy to snip a few and use in cooking. Last year I planted my lettuce around a corner and out of sight, and I would forget about it. I ended up not using a lot of it. This year I decided to plant it right beside the herb garden where I could see it from the kitchen window. Now, every time I look out the window, I'm reminded that I have a lot of fresh lettuce and spinach to use.
Learn to Accept Defeat
Sometimes flowers just don't grow. Sometimes they die. It might not be anything you did or you didn't do. For whatever reason, it might just not work. I'll never forget talking to one of my colleagues a few days before the end of the school year. I told her that I was going to try gardening over the summer. I told her that I'm a perfectionist and that sometimes makes gardening challenging. She said, "this will be good for you." She was right!