Sometimes, even the most dedicated gardeners can get tired…
It’s nearly mid-June, and I have to admit, I’m starting to grow weary in the garden. I’m tired of pulling weeds. Tired of having to water in the absence of rain, and tired of checking for bugs and diseases. Tired of pulling weeds. (Wait. Did I say that already? How I dislike weeds…)
Despite my tiredness, I keep going.
Why? Because safe and healthy homegrown food is worth it. Most of all, our family’s food security is worth all the hard work.
Gardening Burnout Is A Real Thing
I’ve pretty much quit buying home and garden magazines. They only make me feel bad about my less-than-perfect house and garden. (Besides, I’d rather look at seed catalogs any day of the week.) For some reason, those pristine magazine gardens never seem to show unsightly weed overgrowth or swarms of Japanese beetles or squash bugs. Not to mention, the “gardeners” in those magazines always use the best, most expensive tools and wear clean clothes without a speck of dirt or or a drop of sweat to be found!
However, my yard and garden is far from picture-perfect. I have plenty of weeds, and most of the time I garden in mismatched, dirty, and sweaty clothes. The truth is, all of us gardeners suffer from gardening burnout from time to time. Often it hits right about this time as the temps begin to soar. Each year I get at least a touch of it. But the good news is – Each year I seem to survive it! So here are a few of my favorite tips to help you avoid gardening burnout:
1. Stop seeking perfection.
Let me tell you something … You probably won’t ever have that magazine perfect garden. So stop trying! Garden for yourself and your family. Don’t stress out about making things perfect and for goodness sakes, please stop beating yourself up about what your yard or garden looks like. Embrace it for what it is! Perhaps even learn to love the weeds a little?
2. Keep it real, and keep it manageable.
Don’t overdo your landscaping plans or take on bigger projects you can reasonably tackle. Start a project and finish it before you take on another one. Garden in baby steps. Add a new skill or two each year, but don’t try to learn too much at once or you’ll just be overwhelmed. Be reasonable with your gardening expectations. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your garden won’t be either.
3. Plant what you like and what you’ll use.
We all fall prey to those beautiful and glossy catalog pictures, but resist the temptation to grow something you won’t enjoy or won’t use. Don’t waste your precious gardening space and time on growing things you’ll never eat. If your family won’t eat it and you can’t give it away, then leave it out! And please, don’t grow flowers you won’t enjoy. Flowers should bring you more joy than hard work.
4. Let some things go…
Guess what? Nobody is forcing you to have a perfectly manicured lawn. (Unless you live in a really restrictive neighborhood with an overaggressive homeowners association. In that case, do what I did – MOVE!) Don’t feel bad if you have to let things go a little bit here and there. Consider keeping the front yard and garden a little more manicured while the back yard is more, shall we say, relaxed?
5. Do away with joy-killers!
Certain high-maintenance plants, like finicky roses, may require more care than you’re able to give. Dig them up, cut them down, or give them away. Or, if you are really radical, just let them die. Just because your landscape was a certain way when you moved in, that doesn’t mean you have to keep it that way! Last year my husband and I decided to do away with the grassy yard in the front and replace it with natural areas with raised beds and a full-blown food garden. We got tired of spending our time and money maintaining grass that wouldn’t grow well and didn’t give us food in return.
6. Get some help.
Get the family in on the job! Make gardening a family effort and it may just turn into a hobby everyone loves. If your budget allows, consider hiring someone to help in the garden when things get too busy or hectic. Maybe a teenager would like to help with mowing or weeding in exchange for some summer spending cash?