Garden Guy: The Garden Guy’s New Year’s Resolutions

Monday, January 17, 2022

Bruce Bennett, The Garden Guy
By Bruce Bennett

I don’t make a habit of creating New Year resolutions. Many years ago I realized going through that particular annual exercise was (for me, at least) a futile attempt to change overnight. It seemed to me that going through this mental exercise of good intentions was doomed to failure before the effort even began. 

For instance, I have vowed to lose 20 pounds for the last ten years and, yet, my belt size is still two inches larger than I’d like. However, let me say that I am all for realizing measured improvement over a period of time. 

If January is a good time for the effort to begin, then, why not? Whatever the reason or timeframe, incremental improvement is always good, right? So, let’s consider a few tasks that could be added to a gardener’s list of resolutions……

Photo by WTR time plants
With the leaves off the trees and our gardens in a bare bones state, January is a good time to assess the yard for optimum plant placement and future ‘editing.’ 

Are there open spaces that need to be filled-in or cluttered plantings that might be more attractive if divided or moved to create better color and/or texture combinations? 

Devote a notebook to making notes for each of your yard’s potential project sites during winter that can be followed when the time is right to divide, move, re-plant, etc. Even better, especially for those who are more visually attuned, develop a garden design that shows where all plants are currently located and make the changes on paper first. It beats moving the greenery more than once.

Photo from Pinterest
Examine outdoor gardening tools like rakes, hoes, and shovels. Sharpen the edges of hoes, shovels and the like. You’ll be amazed at how much easier your work will become in the spring. 

Cleaning your tools and oiling them now means less rust and longer life. 

Organize the tools for easy access in the coming months. Simple wall racks available at our local big box stores are relatively inexpensive.

The goal is to know where to locate each tool when it is needed in the spring and finding it clean and in good repair as well.

Let’s face it, gardening is NOT cheap! Consider new ways to cut gardening costs during the year. For instance, consider starting some plants from seeds or learn how to divide your perennials. Look for bare root plant sales in February and March. 

If there are enough fellow gardeners in your neighborhood, organization affiliations or chat groups and set a date to share your divided plants or ones you no longer care for, or, set-up a tool-exchange program. These are good activities for spring or autumn. 

Finally, think about adding two-inches of bark mulch to your planting beds. This task will give you multiple benefits. First, it will protect roots from freezing win winter, reducing the need for new plants in the spring. On the other side of the season, the mulch will help to keep root zones cooler and also retain more ground moisture during those hot dog days of summer, thereby reducing your irrigation bills. Both the plants and you win with this one!

Flower and Garden Show 
photo courtesy
Use the winter months to educate yourself on a new topic which will improve your gardening expertise throughout the coming years. 

Do you know what you need to know about invasive plants or the latest imported bugs? How about ways to improve your soil or the best ways to prune that tree or those shrubs. 

Also, don’t forget about learning at one of the country’s largest garden shows. The Northwest Flower and Garden Festival is back on in 2022 and will be held on February 9 – 13 at the Washington Convention Center. 

Think acres of display gardens, 100+ seminars and plant vendors of all sorts. For more information, get on the internet and go to: I’ll be at the Washington State Nursery and Landscape Association booth on Thursday evening and the Master Gardener Program booth on Friday evening. Feel free to stop by, say “Hi!”, ask a question or three and let me know what topics you would like to see me cover in 2022.

Photo from iStock
Between the winter weather and the continuing viruses, you can find yourself sitting around more. So, use the time productively. 

If you don’t have the book(s) you need, check-in with the Elizabeth Miller Horticultural Library at the UW’s Center for Urban Horticulture, read on-line or check with a gardener-friend who might have what you need.

Finally, plot a way to lose those last 20 pounds which is different from the plan that didn’t work last year. 

Ummmm. Perhaps it might be better for my ego to scratch that one! Anyway, the days are getting incrementally longer and your gardens are waiting (along with you) for the weather to warm. Here’s wishing you and yours a green, Happy New Year! 

Send your gardening questions and topic suggestions for 2022 to me at: Until next month, happy garden dreaming!


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