Which five will you pick?
Happy New Year, everyone! While January is the month to plan and dream about your yard and garden, smart gardeners know that a wish list drawn up in winter can feel overwhelming by spring.
Instead, grow your garden a few steps at a time each year: pick five of these resolutions and plan accordingly. Next year, five more, and so on…until you’ve built the garden of your dreams.
This winter, resolve to:
- Hang a bird feeder.
- Build a compost bin.
- Invest in an excellent pruner. (Find a variety of garden tools at the Garden Shop!)
- Order seeds for heirloom tomatoes so you can grow your own.
- Try a new plant combo that pleases you. (See our Terrific Trios Smart Gardener for some ideas!)
- Prune a crabapple or pear tree into an espalier.
- Ask your grandparents what they grew in their gardens.
- Swap seeds with fellow gardeners.
- Become a volunteer for Plants of Concern.
- Build a raised bed.
In spring, resolve to:
- Plant a fruit tree…or two.
- Start a compost pile.
- Test your soil. (For a list of Illinois soil testing labs, visit extension.illinois.edu/soiltest.)
- Plant flowers in Pantone’s colors of the year.
- Switch to organic fertilizers for your lawn.
- Weave native plants into your flower beds.
- Save on grocery bills by planting your own herbs.
- Take a vegetable gardening class in April.
- Order a mushroom log and grow your own fungi.
- Sign up for a community garden plot.
- Add window boxes to your home, fence, or balcony.
Fall-blooming Anemone × hybrida 'Queen Charlotte' casts a "rose quartz" glow. Delphinium adds "serenity" to the garden bed.
In summer, resolve to:
- Install a rain barrel.
- Plant more flowers for bees and pollinators.
- Start a rain garden under your downspouts.
- Plant milkweed for monarch butterflies.
- Leave your grass clippings as natural mulch on your lawn.
- Eat outside as often as possible.
- Show a child how to plant sunflowers.
- Support your local growers at farmers’ markets (like our Windy City Harvest participants).
- Learn to recognize and appreciate a “good” bug.
- Plant a climbing rose.
- Plant peppers in honor of the genus Capsicum.
- Provide a water source for bees and butterflies.
- Experiment with edible landscaping: mix vegetables and flowers together in beds and borders.
- Transform a balcony or patio into a container garden.
In fall, resolve to:
- Grow three new varieties of lettuce.
- Rethink all that lawn.
- Plant a berry-bearing tree or shrubs to feed the birds.
- Share your veggie and flower harvest with the neighbors.
- Preserve your vegetable harvest by learning how to can.
- Rake and save fallen leaves for winter mulch for your garden beds.
- Add a dwarf conifer to your yard.
- Grow your own garlic.
- Add allium bulbs in fall to deter deer.
- Save seeds from flowers and vegetables to plant next year.
In every season:
Karen Zaworski was a writer, photographer, and passionate gardener in Oak Park, Illinois.