I have no problem inviting people into my home. It’s not perfect, but I keep it picked up and vacuumed, and there’s hardly a dirty dish on the counter.

Beautiful garden

Surely, if I just stick with good garden upkeep, my garden will look as beautiful as this!

Photo Credit: martini/fotolia.com

Woman weeding

This year, I’ll make it a priority to get out there and attack weeds early!

Photo Credit: Oleg Kozlov/fotolia.com

Wheelbarrow with mulch

Mulch is one of the best ways to keep a garden healthy, well-maintained and looking good.

Photo Credit: SWP/fotolia.com

My garden…that’s another story. It’s lovely – lovely enough to have been on some local garden tours. But let’s face it: Life gets in the way. Work gets crazy, the kids’ activities dominate everything, then the weather gets icky and I just can’t inspire myself to get out there in the heat and the bugs to water, weed and cut back. The result? Nine times out of 10, I’m embarrassed to let people even see it. Maintaining the garden is just sometimes easier said than done.

This year it’s gonna be different, by golly! And here’s how:

  • I’ll get organized! The corner of my garage that serves as my tool and garden supply storage area is a mess. If I haven’t used a tool in 2 years, I’ll pitch it – scout’s honor – and I’ll organize everything else on a Peg-Board, shelves or wall hooks. And I’ll do it all early, before the new garden season truly takes off. What’s more? I’ll clean up digging tools I may have missed at the end of last year’s growing season, and I’ll bring them in for sharpening. I’ll have my lawn mower tuned up, too, while I’m at it.
  • I’ll shop early. I already know I’ll need a lot of rose fertilizer and insecticide, potting soil, sphagnum peat moss for soil amending, plant labels and other garden supplies. This year, I’ll get it all early so I’m loaded for bear on those first warm days of spring.
  • I’ll tackle maintaining the garden the way I do my housecleaning: I’ll make time for a good hour or two (or four) for garden upkeep on the weekends, when I have time for the heavy-duty stuff. But I can’t neglect it during the week, either. Each day I do a little pickup and tidying in my house, and I’ll use that same principle in my garden now, too. In the morning, I’ll go out there – coffee cup in hand – and spend 15 or so minutes watering, doing a little quick weeding or whatever else needs doing before I head to the office for the day.
  • I’ll invite people over to my garden. The “inviting” concept has been a great clean-house strategy: I know that if I have people over regularly, I’m forced to keep my home clean and the clutter kept to a minimum. So the same can apply for the garden. I’m going to invite more girlfriends over for a glass of wine after work, with the plan that we can lounge in my yard. (Hey, I love this resolution already!)
  • I know this can work because last year, I scheduled a small dinner party in the garden in June, and it inspired me to work like a fiend all spring to have the garden in tip-top shape. This year, I’m also scheduling a late summer one so I don’t slack off once the heat hits!
  • I’ll continue to mulch the garden diligently. It cuts down on watering and weeding, and if I use a good-quality biodegradable mulch (I found some double-shredded oak bark last year), it also feeds the soil over time. I’ve found the easiest, fastest, cheapest way to do this is to order it in bulk from a landscaping company. They just dump a pile on my driveway, and I spend the next week spreading it around my garden.
  • I’ll plant more of less. I’m always grabbing an interesting plant here or there. But increasingly, I find that if I plant large drifts of plants, they’re less work because there’s less of a hodgepodge to get in and work around.
  • I’ll continue to gravitate toward planting shrubs and fewer annuals. I love flowers, but there’s a whole world of smaller flowering shrubs that are every bit as beautiful and require almost no work. Annuals, on the other hand, must be bought, planted and dug up each year.

Every year, it seems, I get better at maintaining the garden. But this year will be the year that anyone will be welcome – not just in my house, but in my back yard – anytime!