Gardening Time Management

Do you ever get overwhelmed by all you need to do in your garden? Weeds to pull, flowers to dead head, mulch to spread, shrubs to dig out, annuals to plant, seeds to sow, the list seems endless at times!

My sister was feeling overwhelmed by all she wants to do in her garden and her time is limited. The picture above is of a simple bird house with a clematis vine wrapped around it sitting on a ledge on her gazebo. A gazebo! I don't have a gazebo. Do you? If I did, I'd love having a garden accent like that on one ledge and that's where I would spend my time.

Here's the advice I gave my sister.

Stopping thinking about EVERYTHING that needs to be done or that you want to do in the garden. Instead figure out what you can do in 15 or 30 minutes, when you have time, and then go do just that without thinking about everything else. It's a little time-management mind game.

For example, I'll tell myself to just weed for 15 minutes or until the container I have is full, whether that is a wheelbarrow load, a basketful or a trash bag full. Or I'll think, "I'll just weed from here to there" maybe a distance of 10 feet and then I can stop. Then I do just that and stop and decide if I have time or the desire to do more. I don't look at the whole bed and think how long it might take to do the whole thing, because most times you won't have that much time to spare all at once, so why go on thinking you will someday?

Enough of these 15 minute sessions and pretty soon, you see some real progress.

Of course, you don't want to be like one of those people who stop to mow their lawns when a hurricane is swirling out in the Atlantic heading right toward them. You have to prioritize and make sure the urgent matters are attended to first, like making sure the chairs in the gazebo all work, which you do by sitting on them and relaxing with a good book and a tall lemonade.

And occasionally you do have to plan enough time to do an important big project, like spreading mulch, or replanting an entire perennial bed, or building a gazebo, but you won't do those kinds of projects every day.

Other high priorities include, for example, getting rid of poison ivy, making sure prized perennials aren't being overrun by weeds, planting the vegetable garden before the fourth of July, planting trees, watering if everything is parched. Stuff like that.

Speaking of watering, I have some neighbors who are already running sprinklers on their lawns. I'm not talking about those people who have irrigation systems and turn them on in the spring and off in the fall and so end up watering nearly every day rain or shine. I'm talking about neighbors who have to go to some effort to drag out hoses and sprinklers and position the sprinklers just right so they aren't watering the street or their driveway.

It is a little dry outside, even though we had some rain last Wednesday. Regardless, I think these neighbors are making a mistake. May is not the month to be "babying" the grass and having it think there is an endless supply of water right at the surface, so that's where the roots stay. No! The lawn must not be babied along like that. It needs to learn to send those roots deeper for moisture, so that when it is really dry out, in July and August, it has a better chance of surviving without additional watering.

That's what I do with my lawn. I even let it go dormant mid-summer and only if it is really, really dry do I do some watering in late August-September, when it starts to cool down in the evenings. And I've not lost it all to a drought yet.


  1. Excellent advice on garden time management. That is my way of doing it too.

    It's been raining for a whole week now so there's no need for me to get the sprinklers out. It never rains but it pours, eh? ;-)

  2. Good advice. I should do that with my room too. Just spend a few minutes at a time putting stuff away. Maybe after a while it will all be in its place

  3. Excellent advice (or maybe I think so because it's exactly what I try to do.) It's always good to find other people who validate one's own strategies.

    I don't always succeed, though. I do frequently feel overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done in the garden. I think my biggest problem is that I fuss around doing small things.

  4. Great advice! I'm feeling overwhelmed at the moment. I'll try to be a good girl, though. Thanks for the reminder!

  5. Definitely overwhelmed. Good advice, but sometimes hard for me to follow.

  6. Good advice Carol. By following your advice, I was able to weed the southwest corner of the front flower bed and plant a bucketful of zenias. I was able to help Sophie remove the grass from her pet cemetary so she can plant wildflowers, we planted Morning Glories, Elephant Ears, and bought some stuff for the garden -- all by taking it 15 minutes at a time!

  7. i really enjoy reading your garden blog. its nice to see what other garden enthusiasts grow in the other side of the world. i am from the philippines and my friend and i have a garden blog as well, you can check it out at :)

  8. thats pretty much what i do--- set aside a day for a big project now and then (like mulching my blueberry beds) and other days spend a few minutes weeding, dead heading, or watering. Sometimes when i feel a bit overwhemelmed about all the grass I need to dig up I tell myself--- one box of sod, or one wheelbarrow load and stop for the day. Its slow going but I can see progress and I don't get tired of it. It stays fun and managable for me.
    Sure I have a long lists of to-do's but I'm not going to force myself to face them if Im not ready to. They will get done, eventually and as I work full time and up to (100 hours every 2 weeks at work) taking small steps means nothing gets ratty looking or weedy.

  9. Over-Overwhelmed!! This time of year it's always a scurry to get everything in and going--and it is hard to prioritize when everything should have been done yesterday!
    But I have accepted the fact that my garden and chores are never "finished" is always a work in progress!

    Love the photo of the bird house!

  10. This is good advice and I need to take heed. It can be overwheming to have so much to do. It does indeed become a chore rather than a pleasure when we try to do major tasks everytime we garden. I love the picture of the birdhouse too!

  11. That is definitely the best way to get things done. My problem here is that I need to pull weeds, but it is so dry, they won't come out unless I water first. And my lawn is showing the stress that I usually don't see until July and August. Please, Please, Please make it rain!!!

  12. I, too, get overwhelmed! I try to alternate physically demanding projects (like planting) with something easy (like deadheading) to save my aching back! It also gives a little structure to my otherwise ADD garden sessions.

  13. Thanks for the tip on your lawn watering -- this is what I love about garden blogging, just the sharing of information is worth its weight in gold. i haven't watered yet and am glad to know I shouldn't yet, but my neighbor has her sprinklers on every morning.

    And I agree about time management. I used to think 15 min wasn't worth it, but this year I realize it is and it's 15 min of peace and tranquility and therapy, i otherrwise wouldn't have gotten.


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