The Gardening Equation

I've discovered a formula called the Gardening Equation which can be used to predict with some degree of accuracy your overall satisfaction with your gardening experience.

The formula is ((S+P+C)*D)+To+Ti+W+Ch = GE (Gardening Enjoyment or Experience)

Here is how to work this equation:

Rate your Soil (S).  If you constantly have to remove rocks and other debris from your soil, wonder if maybe your garden was once a landfill, or think that a pick ax is a good tool to use for digging, rate your soil around 1.  If your soil looks like the friable, dark brown soil full of good compost and lovely earthworms that we sometimes see on British gardening shows, and you want to weep with joy each time you dig through it with your bare hands, rate your soil a 10.  If your soil is somewhere between those two types, decide which it is closest to and rate accordingly.

Rate your Plants (P).  If you love all the plants in your garden and they are the exact plants you want to grow, rate your plants a 10.  Conversely if you do not care for the plants in your garden, perhaps they came with the garden when you bought it and you want to rip them all out and start all over, rate your plants a 1.  If your feelings for your plants fall somewhere in between, perhaps you long for just a few plants from another hardiness zone south of you, rate accordingly.

Rate your Climate (C).   If you love your climate and wonder why anyone would ever want to garden some place colder or warmer, wetter or drier, rate your climate a 10.  If you are constantly looking at maps and checking real estate guides to figure out how to move to another climate, rate your climate a 1.  If your feelings about your climate are not one extreme or another, rate accordingly. 

Rate your Tools (To).  If you always have the tools you need for any gardening activity, and you know how to use them to such a degree that when you garden you barely notice you are using tools, rate your tools a 10.  If you are looking in your kids' sandbox for their plastic sand shovel because you can't find your trowel or you lack other decent tools, rate your tools a 1.  Most of us fall in between, so rate your tools accordingly.

Rate your Gardening Time (Ti).  If you feel like your garden is so needy that you will never be able to give it enough time, rate your time a 1.  On the other extreme, if you feel like your garden requires just the amount of time you have to give it, rate your time a 10.  As with other ratings, if your feelings about the time you spend in your garden are somewhere between those two ends of the time spectrum, rate accordingly.

Rate your Weeds (W).  This is a little bit tricky.  If you have so many weeds you are thinking of pruning and deadheading them just to feel better about having them, rate your weeds a 1. If you rarely have weeds in your garden or you are able to remove weeds when they are teeny tiny before anyone sees them, then give yourself a 10 for weeds.  As with other factors, if you fall in between, rate yourself accordingly.

Rate your chemical usage (C).  If you do not use chemicals on your garden, give yourself a 10 on this one.  If you use so many chemicals that there are no beneficial insects buzzing around the flowers, the squirrels cross the street rather than walk by your house, and the birds are flying by wearing gas masks, give yourself a 0 on this one.

Rate your Design (D). Design is either a 1 or a 2, or rarely a 0. If you have a pretty good design for your garden, rate your design a 2. If you don't have a design and feel like your plants are all misplaced, rate your design a 1.  Only give yourself a 0 if you think a garden design is a waste of time.  This is where you can also factor in the size of your garden.  If it is a good design but too small or too large, drop the rating to a 1.

Now, add up P+S+C and multiply that sum by D.  Then add in Ti, To, W, and C.  The result will be a number less than 100 but greater than 1.

A 100 means you lied on your ratings, go back and check that weed one for sure.

If you scored...

80 - 99 - Wow. You've got this gardening thing all figured out.  Good for you, but I think I see a weed over in that one bed and I want a soil sample for that 10 you gave your dirt. 

60 - 79 - Swell. You are doing pretty good, and gardening is a good hobby for you.

40 - 59 - Oh dear. You either need to move or you have some work to do to bring your garden up to a level that brings you more enjoyment. This is where the equation can help you improve your situation. Look across your ratings and see if you can move any of them up by switching out plants, buying better tools, adding more compost, or laying off the chemicals, for example.

20 - 39 - Uh oh. I'm worried about you and your garden. Maybe you need to think about a good design to double your satisfaction with your plants, soil and climate? Maybe you should move to a better gardening situation? What other numbers can you raise because I know that just by working through this equation, you want to enjoy your garden

0 - 19  -  I don't know what to say, except maybe there is a better hobby for you other than gardening?

Here's my Gardening Equation:

((S+P+C)*D)+To+Ti+W+Ch = GE
((7+8+8)*2)+9+7+7+9 = 78

I'm going to call that score "high pretty good".  I think I'll keep on gardening.

How did your equation work out? Are you enjoying your garden?


  1. I didn't expect to do algebra when I came to your site today! LOL! You are too funny! Love you logic and your formula. I would add a factor:AS - additional space left to build more gardens and expand

  2. I definitely enjoy my garden. I wouldn't drag any math into the mix as I am not good at math and it would take some of the fun out of gardening for me. Let us say my garden is good for me.

  3. My score was low, so I looked back over the equation and thought about why I love my garden. The equation is missing an element - I'm not sure what to call it. The question is: Does your garden feed your soul? Does your heart leap when you see seeds sprouting or buds forming? Do you get a sense of contentment just being in your garden? Is it a refuge for you? Whoever said, "You are closer to God in a garden than anywhere else on Earth" knew the real reason to garden. Give yourself an extra 10 or 20 (or however many points you wish) for that impossible-to-measure joy the garden brings!
    Scoring 100 in contentment and joy in the garden

  4. I got a 72. Suspect my lower rating in soil is mostly to blame. Fortunately, soil can be improved, so I see my score gradually going up in the future.

  5. I don't want to do the math ... I'm afraid of what I'll find out!

  6. I agree with Lea...I've made the best I can with shallow soil and not enough sun and created a garden I love.

  7. 53! - time to get the spade out!


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