50 New Year's Resolutions for Gardeners

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.

Winter resolutions
  1. Hang a bird feeder.

  2. Build a compost bin.

  3. Invest in an excellent pruner. (Find a variety of garden tools at The Garden Shop!)

  4. Order seeds for heirloom tomatoes so you can grow your own.

  5. Try a new plant combo that pleases you. (See our Terrific Trios Smart Gardener for some ideas!)

  6. Prune a crabapple or pear tree into an espalier.

  7. Ask your grandparents what they grew in their gardens.

  8. Swap seeds with fellow gardeners at our Seed Swap.

  9. Become a volunteer for Plants of Concern.

  10. Get to know orchids at the Orchid Show.

  11. Build a raised bed.

Spring resolutions
  1. Plant a fruit tree…or two.

  2. Start a compost pile.

  3. Test your soil. (For a list of Illinois soil testing labs, visit extension.illinois.edu)

  4. Plant flowers in Pantone’s color of the year: rose quartz and serenity blue.

  5. Switch to organic fertilizers for your lawn.

  6. Weave native plants into your flower beds.

  7. Save on grocery bills by planting your own herbs.

  8. Take a vegetable gardening class in April.

  9. Order a mushroom log and grow your own fungi.

  10. Sign up for a community garden plot.

  11. Add window boxes to your home, fence, or balcony.

Rosa 'george vancouver'  shrub rose

George Vancouver shrub rose Rosa ‘George Vancouver’)

Magenta Bliss Solarscape™ Hybrid Impatiens

Magenta Bliss Solarscape Hybrid Impatiens

Summer resolutions
  1. Install a rain barrel.

  2. Plant more flowers for bees and pollinators.

  3. Start a rain garden under your downspouts.

  4. Plant milkweed for monarch butterflies.

  5. Leave your grass clippings as natural mulch on your lawn.

  6. Eat outside as often as possible.

  7. Show a child how to plant sunflowers.

  8. Support your local growers at farmers’ markets (like our Windy City Harvest participants).

  9. Learn to recognize and appreciate a “good” bug.

  10. Plant a climbing rose.

  11. Plant peppers in honor of the genus Capsicum, the 2016 Herb of the Year.

  12. Provide a water source for bees and butterflies.

  13. Experiment with edible landscaping: mix vegetables and flowers together in beds and borders.

  14. Transform a balcony or patio into a container garden.

Fall resolutions
  1. Grow three new varieties of lettuce.

  2. Rethink all that lawn.

  3. Plant a berry-bearing tree or shrubs to feed the birds.

  4. Share your veggie and flower harvest with the neighbors.

  5. Preserve your vegetable harvest by learning how to can.

  6. Rake and save fallen leaves for winter mulch for your garden beds.

  7. Add a dwarf conifer to your yard.

  8. Grow your own garlic.

  9. Add allium bulbs in fall to deter deer.

  10. Save seeds from flowers and vegetables to plant next year.

Every season resolutions
  1. Use your Chicago Botanic Garden membership card for reciprocal free admission to tour other gardens for ideas.

  2. Give plants as gifts all year long.

  3. Follow our bonsai curator on Instagram: @windy_city_bonsai.

  4. Invite your kids into the garden.

Happy gardening in the new year!

Karen Zaworski is a garden writer and photographer who lives and gardens in Oak Park, Illinois.