We have all made them – kept some, unsuccessful with others. New Year’s resolutions can be tricky, but for your gardens, they may be a little easier to keep. For starters, they are months away and can be more thought out and, with time to prepare, more easily accomplished.
Here are a few garden resolutions to consider:
• Add more mulch where it can prevent weed growth and retain more moisture in your shrub beds and tree rings.
• Mow the lawn higher, with a sharp mower blade, and more frequently in the spring, summer and fall so the lawn will compete better against weeds and conserve soil moisture.
• Start a compost pile or bin for spring cleanup and add to it regularly, including fresh vegetable kitchen scraps. When you water your gardens, water the pile or bin too.
• Service the lawn mower two to three times a year to maintain a sharp mower blade and keep the underside of the deck clean for best performance
• Keep a photo journal of your gardens in 2018. Take more when the gardens are changing quickly, especially during spring blooms, then less during our hot dry summers, and more again with fall colors.
• Try at least one new vegetable for the dinner table this summer, or at least a different variety of your favorite traditional vegetable garden plants.
• Enjoy some early spring blooms indoors by clipping some flowering shrubs in the yard in March and force a bloom indoors. Then enjoy them again when they boom naturally outside.
• Resolve to take in a visit to your closest arboretum to see the winter beauty or visit a conservatory and enjoy the tropical nature of their foliage plants.
• Take that gardening class you have been putting off.
• Vow to prune your landscape plants more naturally, experiencing more bloom show and natural habit.
• Replace those old, dull hand pruners and saws to make pruning a happier task.
• Add more gardens and reduce the amount of lawn that will need mowing.
• Make the vegetable garden a multi-generational effort. Grandparents and parents share knowledge and children are more likely to eat their veggies if they helped plant and tend the garden. Keeps everyone more active too. Don’t forget to weave some family history into the garden. How else are we going to be able to say “remember when” or “back in our day”?
• Start gardening earlier and go late into the fall. Gardeners in northern Illinois miss a lot of our already short growing season anyway. Using season extenders at both ends makes a lot of sense.
• Vow to spend some time every day out in your gardens to enjoy the blooms and smells and to observe nature at its best. Gardening does not always have to mean work!
Happy holidays and wishing all a productive new year!
• Richard Hentschel is a horticulture educator with University of Illinois Extension, serving DuPage, Kane and Kendall counties. Get more garden and yard updates with This Week in the Garden videos at facebook.com/extensiondkk/videos and the Green Side Up podcast at go.illinois.edu/greensideup.