brown hand woven basket filled with yellow flowers
Curing the Gardening Phobia

How to Be a Garden Boss

4 minutes

So you’re now a homeowner, and most of the inside is settled and you’re thinking about the yard. Or trying to avoid thinking about it…but there it is…under your feet…every day as you walk out to the car.

Standing on the Brink

Not really a yard person? No gardener boss-types in your family? Would you like some flowers, but don’t know where to start?…except for that one bare spot…would be nice to have something there…

Is this the year you can’t avoid it anymore? Especially because there’s a weird plant growing under foot…in your way…and it’s a nuisance?

One year, I had a black-eyed Susan growing across a path that I needed to get to the garbage cans. Sure, I like the flowers, but I had a big enough bed of them on the other side of the yard. Some plants re-seed freely, and you’ll find them everywhere. Black-eyed Susans are famous for that.

Nothin’ But Good

Well…as with most things, there’s good news and then more good news…if you train yourself to think positively.

Good news! You don’t have to have anything growing where you don’t want it. Really…it’s your yard…you’re the boss. Besides, the longer you wait, the bigger the wild plant will get. There’s no advantage to waiting.

More good news! It’s easy to dig it out.

Stepping into New Experiences

weather-beaten clapboards with garden tools leaning against them

OK…I don’t want to hear any groaning! If it’s authentic experience you’re looking for, then a 15-minute dig in the dirt is the original upper body workout. And you didn’t have to pay a dime for a gym membership to get it.

Except if you don’t have a shovel or pitchfork yet. So, OK, you’ll spend about $25 for a shovel—your first investment in authentic exercise that comes with the added benefit of satisfaction from a job well done.

No whining about the price…you only have to swap out a couple artisan coffees for the office pantry coffee for a couple days.…a first-world problem. No one sympathizes with you…

Embrace the Brawn and the Beauty

If you decide on a shovel instead of a pitchfork, you want the type of shovel that has a point on it. Don’t get a flat one…you want the very traditional, standard shovel with a wide end attached to the handle, and wide point for digging—called a spade.

So you’re finally out there staring at the offensive plant. There are NO rules! Just start digging…try to get all the roots, so it doesn’t re-sprout.

If the plant has flowers, cut them all off first and make a bouquet.

One Truth to Rule Them All

Well…I told a little lie…there is 1 rule:

NEVER throw topsoil away.

That means that as you pull out chunks of the plant, shake off all the soil and leave it in the hole. Hit the plant against something…like the shovel…to loosen it all.

You might have heard that many places in the U.S. have lost tons of topsoil from erosion. Well…it’s true. So save every grain of it by putting it back in the hole.

Join the 1-Hour Gardener Club

You can get this task done in less than 30 minutes, for a small flowering plant. If your unwanted plant is a larger shrub, take it in pieces. First cut branches until you are left with the main trunk, and then dig that out.

No rules for this. You don’t have to spend more than 1 hour in the yard. If the larger shrub is taking longer, it won’t hurt to leave it…get your kid to her birthday party…and finish it in a second 1-hour session tomorrow. But what do you do with the plant you’ve dug up? Throw it into the yard bag, if it’s a plant you don’t want sprouting all over the yard. I always put black-eyed Susans in the bag.

Conservation of Matter

green lawn, plastic green chair, rustic fence and interior door used as garden entry way

Other plants that aren’t invasive can be put in your compost pile. Some people would cut off the roots, and just put the top parts in the compost pile. That’s what I do…up to you. But don’t put the tops of the black-eyed Susans anywhere near the compost pile. The flowers have thousands of seeds!

So…you’ve done it! Taken ownership of the yard and started making it your own. Way to go!

Share this with your favorite reluctant gardener!

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