In our sidetracked lives, we tend to see all or nothing. We look outside at our yard and don't think we have enough time to do it all. And trying to do it all in one day is guaranteed to overwhelm you and take the joy from it. (Oh yes, there is joy in yard work.)
How to let the joy back in? Approach your yard as you approach your house: Break it into zones and follow this basic plan. I've outlined chores to be done just once, at the beginning of the growing season, then those that will need to be done daily and weekly during the rest of the summer. You'll soon find yourself with a beautiful outdoor space - and much more time to enjoy it.
You will never have to spend a whole day working in your yard again.
1. Plant: The more you water a plant early in the year, the shallower its roots will grow. Plants with shallow roots won't be hardy enough to withstand the first dry spell (or the first time you forget to water them). So, water sparingly when you plant, and let the vegetation"root hog or die." Train your plants to fend for themselves and you'll reap the benefits.
2. Fertilize: There are several time-released fertilizers on the market now. Put a spoonful around your plants in the spring, and don't worry about it again for four months or more.
3. Gather tools: Round up a pair of gardening gloves, a spade, and some clippers and stash them in a basket by your door. They'll be easy to grab on your way out for your morning or evening walk.
1. Weed flowers: Ten minutes is the most you'll need to spend if you pluck daily. Weeding becomes an onerous task only when you've waited until it's gotten out of hand.
2. Deadhead spent flowers: I love to do this while I'm on the headset phone. Snip, Snip, Snip! You'll be surprised at how much you can get done while you're talking to a friend.
3. Refill bird feeders and refresh birdbaths: This takes only a few minutes to do, and the enjoyment you get in return is well worth it.
4. Water plants: Even if you've toughened up your plants at the beginning of the growing season, you'll still need to water some of the more delicate ones every day during the hottest days of summer. Refill your can after a round of watering so that it's ready to go the next time.
Incorporate these tasks into your daily routine. I like to fill my bird feeders in the morning and pluck and prune in the evening, while supper is cooking.
1. Maintain the garden: Some of your flowers may need to be staked, so that the next drenching rain won't flatten them out. Or you might be training a vine to grow around a garden trellis. Check on things like these about once a week.
2. Mow the lawn: Mowing can take from one hour up to five hours, depending on the size of your yard. If you need to, divide your yard into zones and mow it over a couple of days.
Remember, it is work only if you think of it that way. Spend 15 minutes a day walking around your garden, weeding and clipping whatever calls out to you, and your yard "work" will be transformed into a labor of love - and beauty.