The Art of Taking Breaks

Sometimes, the most important thing you can do when you are out working in your garden is… take a break.

I think I’ve perfected the art of taking breaks, and it shows in my garden! There are areas that could use a little more attention, be cleaned up a bit more, be better planted.

But I don’t let all that “undone stuff” interfere with my break times!

I believe a gardener should take breaks when needed and then take a few more breaks beyond those because what is the point of gardening to exhaustion, to the point where you wonder if the symptoms you have are the same as heat stroke? If that is the case, maybe you do have heat stroke!

I strive to find a good balance between taking breaks and still getting stuff done in the garden. I don’t know if I’ve found the right balance, but I do find time for breaks.

Sometimes I’ll set little mini-goals for myself and treat myself to a break when I’ve accomplished the goal. “When I’ve filled up this bushel basket twice with weeds, I can take a break and eat a piece of chocolate and drink some iced tea.”

Or maybe if it’s summertime, I’ll eat a few cherry tomatoes, like those ‘Black Cherry’ tomatoes pictured above, straight out of the garden for a little break-time snack. (Those ‘Black Cherry’ tomatoes are very good, by the way, and will be included in my garden next year.)

Always when I mow the lawn, I take a break between mowing the front lawn and mowing the back lawn. If it’s a nice cool day, I wouldn’t necessarily need the break, but on hot days I absolutely need the break.

It’s all part of my ritual of mowing. I park the mower in the same spot when I’m done with the front, go in and get some iced tea and maybe a little treat to eat, and take a break. Sometimes while on my mowing break, I check Twitter and leave a message about how I’m ‘sweating like an Austin Garden Blogger’. Sometimes I check Plurk or email.

And sometimes, if I’ve thought about something I want to post about while I was out there mowing (because we all know mowing is great thinking time), I’ll use the break to write up a first draft.

Then when I’m cooled down, I go out and finish mowing the back. Oddly enough, after I’ve mowed the back, I don’t always take another break right away. I clean under the deck of the mower and put it away, and then putter around in the garden for a bit before I go back inside and get something to drink.

Always when it is hot outside, and I have to garden for whatever reason, be it giving in to the gardening compulsion or having to do some Important Garden Task That Can’t Wait, I give myself time for plenty of breaks, good long, cool down breaks with lots of water and green iced tea.

Overall, I think I do a pretty good job of taking breaks. I’ve learned over the years that I don’t have to leave it all out there in the garden like an athlete competing in the Olympics. There is time to take it a bit slower, enjoy the actual gardening a bit more and take a few more breaks.

I’ve figured out that learning the art of taking breaks and giving yourself permission to take as many breaks as you need or want is key to being a better gardener!

So, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being, “I work in the garden until I collapse” to 10 being “oh, we are supposed to garden in between these breaks”, how good are you at the Art of Taking Breaks?


  1. There is a shady spring at the historic site where I garden. When it is very hot, I go down and splash some 54 degree water on my face and then dangle my feet in the water for a while. It's better than going into the air-conditioned visitors center.

  2. Pretty tomato! I put a chair in the shade in a little corner of my garden hoping it will inspire me to take more breaks. One day I hope to replace it with one of those pretty benches.

  3. I have a lot of sitting places in the backyard, so taking a break is automatic for me. Add in the fountain and sometimes I find that my gardening has been in the form of a break in total.

    The front yard is a little problematic. No place to sit there..sigh.

  4. Often times I have to remind myself to take a break, especially when I get on a roll with something that I have been aiming to take care of. I can be a little too driven in the garden at times I am afraid. But I do love being out in the garden so much that once I get going it is hard to tear me away.

  5. I tend to garden the lazy way. You know... take a break while I'm working. I set up a small step stool in the shade and sit on it while I put my weeds into a 5 gallon bucket. It's hardly like working at all. I suppose that's harder to do when you're not weeding though. Or, if you're building a shed. Just to forwarn you, I did something to a hoe I'm not so sure that you'll like!

  6. I got from 1 to 10 during last 2 year. This is very important to understand the value of break, before one hurts oneself :)

  7. Well, I'm pretty lazy in the summer (being one of those sweaty Austin gardeners). But during the gardening seasons in spring and fall, once I start I pretty much garden nonstop. I must make myself take a break and drink some water.

  8. Hi Carol, those are cherry tomatoes, they look just like the big ones, I love the color. Were they easy to locate? Did you start them from seed? I try and set a goal when going out in the morning before it gets too hot and always come in for a cool down, or warm up in the winter. I don't have to watch the clock to know when to come in because I have to pee after so long. The automatic timer. ;->

  9. Very good advice, Indy. We all need to take breaks, although it's hard to do so when on task. Some stretching is in order too.~~Dee

  10. Great tips Carol. I try to set goals for myself daily at this time of year. And I takes alot of breaks in the heat. No use making myself sick, the garden will suffer.

  11. I'm a natural "break-taker" as I must suffer from some sort of attention-deficit disorder. Gads! Could it be GADS? The result is that I frequently take a break from one task because another distracts me.

    I think I'm going to take a very long break. Wake me when the night time lows fall below 70.

  12. Hey...I'm taking a break right now. What a delightful way to do it....reading your blog. I am getting up in years...way up. I still do all the trimming on our 3/4 acre lot.I have the park bench to sit on, the front porch, a chair on the west, a bench in the back, a chair in the dog run, and a back you can see I am all set for breaks. Now if I could find someone to fan me.

  13. I have a lot of little sitting areas in my gardens for that express purpose. So I'll stop, ponder what I've done, and rest a spell!

  14. Thanks for the reminder to rest! I'm so bad at remembering to take breaks that my husband has started coming outside to not-so-gently remind me that I need to stop and drink some water. I think I tend to work for too long because I enjoy the yard work, but I hate sitting and resting in the hot, humid, mosquito-infested yard. I am also not a fan of going inside in the middle of a task, since I tend to find a distraction indoors and never make it back out to finish up. I'd say I've worked myself down to a 7 (or 8) at this point - thanks to my husband. We'll see what happens while he's out of town this week...


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