I don’t buy home and garden magazines or watch gardening shows anymore, because they make me feel bad. All those pictures of perfect landscapes and gardeners with immaculate clothes and brand new gloves without a speck of dirt on them are just designed to make people like me feel inadequate. My yard is so far from perfect, it’s laughable, and my gardening attire consists of clothes I wouldn’t be seen dead wearing in public. Forget clean gloves. Most of the time, mine don’t even match.
All gardeners who struggle and fail to produce the picture perfect garden suffer from gardening burnout at some time. You know the feeling. It’s not wanting to even mow the lawn, much less pull the weeds or trim the hedges, because you know your hard work will never produce a yard looking like the cover of Southern Living.
Give Up the Perfectionism
Face it, nature makes messes. It throws weeds and trash all over your yard, and there is no way you can keep up with it. Animals and storms rampage through your landscape with abandon, leaving destruction in their path. So stop beating yourself up. Instead of trying to create something that only a crew of professionals can maintain, keep your landscape plans real. Only plant what you know you can care for, not what you would like to be able to care for.
Let Things Go
My favorite saying is “The weeds will still be there when I get around to them.” Of course, if you live in a gated, deed restricted community, that may not be feasible. Still, there is probably one section of your yard that is hidden from public view that you can let go to rack and ruin for a time while you take care of the more noticeable places. I spend a lot of time on my front yard, and it shows. The back yard, however, is hidden behind an 8-foot tall privacy fence and you don’t want to go back there in late summer without jungle gear. I can’t do it all, so I keep what people see the most looking the best, and forget the rest until it gets cooler or I get more time.
Dig It Up or Cut It Down
Yes, you may have to resort to removing parts of your landscape that are just too labor-intensive and replacing it with something easier. I gave up thirsty, high-maintenance plants years ago, replacing them with natives and things that you couldn’t kill if you tried. I don’t do trees that drop voluminous amounts of leaves, flowering plants that need weekly spraying, or anything that has to be dug in the winter and replanted in the spring. If it can’t survive benign neglect, it doesn’t go into my yard. I still kill things, and I can live with that.
Hire Garden Help
Sometimes, you just have to break down and pay someone to help you. You can be the greatest, most knowledgeable gardener on earth and not be able to do it all. Bart Zeigler, garden writer for the Wall Street Journal, admits that he and other prominent gardeners hire help when there is just too much for one person to do. Those gardening experts on t.v. have teams of gardeners that do the heavy lifting so they can look all cool and composed and in charge in front of the cameras. Teenagers are usually looking for something to do for some extra money, and they work cheap. Think of hiring a teenager as helping our youth learn a good work ethic while you catch up on your reading.