New Year’s Resolutions for the Garden

As the New Year approaches you are probably thinking about making New Year’s resolutions.  Often, these resolutions center on personal goals for improved fitness and health.  Why not consider doing the same for your garden?

To be healthy, your garden needs basic care that includes a healthy diet in the form of nicely amended soil and a well-balanced fertilizer, a good dose of sunshine, fresh air, and it needs to be kept hydrated.

The simplest way to provide all of this is to start with a simple plan of action and then stick with it throughout the year. With that in mind, here are 5 gardening resolutions that will help you build a healthier, happier garden.

Create a Plan:

Winter is the perfect time to create a garden plan so that you will know ahead of time what needs to be done and when. Take advantage of the colder winter months to decide which changes you want to make to your garden once spring arrives. Write down your ideas. Plan out what should be done when. This plan can also be used as a budgeting tool helping you to make systematic upgrades to your garden over time.

Plant More Natives:

Plant more natives. Natives not only provide habitat for wildlife, but because they are adapted for our climate, they often need less maintenance and use less water than imported plants. A garden filled with native plants attracts beautiful wildlife and helps restore habitat in commercial and residential areas.

To set out the ‘Welcome Mat’ provide three things: a food source, water source, and shelter. Look around your garden. Are there plants that can be replaced with those that are wildlife friendly? Consider adding native shrubs that will increase the biodiversity of your garden, provide shelter, and act as a food source. Good choices in Northern California include Toyon, Cotoneaster and Pyracantha. When covered with berries, they not only add a shot of color in the winter months, but they provide a much needed food and shelter source for birds and small animals. Salvias, Monkey Flowers, and Penstemon are three of my favorite species of native perennials that are not only colorful and long-blooming in planting beds, but they attract tons of hummingbirds and beneficial insects as well.

Conserve Water:

Start by checking your irrigation system. Manually run your irrigation system while walking through your garden. Reposition any heads or emitters that are over-spraying and repair any leaks – these small repairs may not seem like much, but they can add up to big savings! When replanting an area, be sure to group plants with similar moisture needs together. This allows you to program your irrigation system for maximum efficiency. Finally, set your sprinklers to water in the early morning when it’s cooler to avoid evaporation and mildew and rot on plants.

Mulch Regularly

Mulch conserves water, inhibits weeds and provides an attractive ground cover in your flowerbeds or vegetable garden. Read more about the benefits of mulch here.

Enjoy!

Finally, resolve to never forget why you chose to garden in the first place: to have fun and enjoy your landscape and the outdoors. Remember nature is beautiful, relaxing, and it replenishes us. Walk around, smell your roses, and just enjoy the things you are growing.