Ready to make this your best gardening year yet? These resolutions are both good for the earth and good for you. And, most importantly, it’s all about balance, taking on what’s do-able, and letting go of the rest.
Need a garden planner? This printable planner may be just what you need.
Garden Resolutions For The New Year
Of all the garden resolution lists that pop up at this time of year, my favorites are the humorous ones that keep it real.
They list things like:
- Master the art of growing weeds.
- Buy way more plants than I have room for.
- Declare an overrun vegetable garden a work of art.
- Get better at hiding garden nursery receipts.
They’re funny because they’re true. It’s quite a task to manage a bustling garden throughout an entire growing season. Most of us realize along the way that we can’t keep on top of everything—nor should we.
There are a lot of garden tasks that are not actually good for the garden (or our wallets) in the long run.
Plus, unless we keep it enjoyable, who really wants to do it?
In that spirit, here is my list of garden resolutions for anyone who wants to grow a better garden by doing less and helping dear old Mother Earth along the way.
Easy Does It
Resolution: Do less but do less better
So many of us begin the gardening year in an overambitious frenzy.
We start more seeds indoors than we have room for, buy way more plants than we’ll ever get in the ground, and end up with pots (and pots) of annuals that become a burden as their water needs increase.
And let’s not even mention the veggie patch that becomes an overgrown jungle long before harvest time.
That’s a lot of wasted time, energy, and money. And for what?
If you’re nodding your head in agreement, resolve to dial it down. Go back to basics. Set a few, manageable priorities and see them through.
It’s so satisfying to do a few things well rather than many things poorly. And you can always add more garden projects later if things are sailing along smoothly.
Green It Up
Resolution: Choose what benefits your local eco-system
When you make eco-beneficial choices a top priority, gardening gets much easier. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking does this help or hurt?
Here are some ideas.
- Stop the use of any pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, or fertilizers known to do harm. Giving them up has immediate benefits. You will save time, money, and stop harming the very creatures we need to sustain life. Plus it will reduce the toxins entering our soil, water, and air.
- Make your lawn as low-maintenance as possible. Mow less often, keep grass taller, give up watering, fertilizers, and herbicides. Use your grass clippings. And say good-bye to noisy, polluting gas-powered machines.
- Learn about plants native to your area that benefit local wildlife. Start introducing beneficial species into your garden or add to the ones you have. This is an easy way to sow native plant seeds in fall.
- Make a concerted effort to avoid single-use plastics. They are far too convenient and abundant in the gardening world and a huge waste problem (unless truly reusable and long-lasting).
- Keep a compost pile for amending your garden beds. If vermin are an issue, an enclosed compost tumbler may help.
- Add a pond. Besides stopping pesticide and other toxic product use, adding a source of fresh water is the number one way to attract and benefit local wildlife. Once established, the garden really comes to life.
- And finally: lights out at night. There’s an entire night shift of wild things that are only active in darkness and greatly disrupted by artificial light. Fireflies are just one example. They can’t properly light up and attract mates if other light sources are present. So, lights out!
Also see 10 Beginner Garden Tips That Avoid Bloopers (Great & Small) for more ideas.
Grow What You Love
Resolution: Follow your heart, not someone else’s expectations
It’s no surprise that we take the best care of things we actually care about.
Same goes for plants. Instead of following someone else’s plan, put the environment first and, within that framework, grow what speaks to you.
This could be a flower garden packed with perennials that nurture countless wild things like birds, bees, butterflies, and more.
Or how about a food garden featuring the ingredients for homemade soup or salsa?
Choose what interests you and let the road take you where it will.
Resolution: Remove invasive plant species from your garden
So many of the plants we think are native species are actually introduced species that have been gradually creeping across the continent for decades or longer. Look at any “natural” field and it will have an assortment of non-native species! Some have adapted, others are a concern.
Your local conservation group or extension office likely has a list of the worst invasive offenders.
Resolve to remove any problem plants from your garden. In my case, they are creeping in from neighboring yards so it’s an ongoing—but highly worthwhile—mission. The long-term goal is to get the neighbors onboard too.
Keep It Creative
Resolution: Make time for the fun stuff
What is a garden if not a haven?
Tune out all that noise, get away from the madding crowd, and explore things you’ve always wanted to try.
Here are some ideas:
- Grow a vegetable and herb container garden on your balcony.
- Grow an 18-foot-tall sunflower.
- Create an arbor of sweet pea vines. Or how about a squash tunnel?
- Dress up your garden with repurposed garden art. How about mosaics, chandeliers, garden balls, or plant shadow boxes?
- Take up garden photography. With a lens kit for your phone all sorts of cool shots are just a click away.
“When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden.”
For me, it’s time spent puttering away amongst the plants and birds that brings me the most enjoyment.
Happy new year!
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
Eco-Beneficial Gardening Books
Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants | Doug Tallamy
Garden Allies: The Insects, Birds, & Other Animals that Keep Your Garden Beautiful and Thriving | Frederique Lavoipierre
The Humane Gardener: Nurturing a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife (How to Create a Sustainable and Ethical Garden that Promotes Native Wildlife, Plants, and Biodiversity) | Nancy Lawson
The Pollinator Victory Garden | Kim Eierman
A Garden for the Rusty-Patched Bumblebee: Creating Habitat for Native Pollinators: Ontario and Great Lakes Edition | Lorraine Johnson, Sheila Colla | All the information gardeners need to take action to support and protect pollinators, by creating habitat in yards and community spaces, on balconies and boulevards, everywhere!