Coping As A Reality Gardener

By Laura Miller | December 1, 2021
by Laura Miller
December 1, 2021

Like many working women, I have more to do than time to do it. I love to garden, but seldom have the available hours to easily complete all my gardening tasks. This means working efficiently and taking shortcuts whenever possible. Sound familiar? 

Hopes, Dreams and Reality Gardening

I have three visions of my outdoor living space. The first is an unrealistic dream. It’s what I’d like my garden to be. In this vision, I see my veggie patch and flowerbeds full of almost ripe fruit or beautiful blooms with not a weed in sight. The shrubs and trees are perfectly manicured and the entire two-acre lawn is always a robust 4 inches (10 cm.) tall.

The second vision is what I hope to accomplish in my garden. In this vision, I have the occasional weed in the morning, but it’s been pulled by evening. The grass may reach 5 inches (13 cm.), but then gets mowed. The trees and shrubs receive needed attention, but I’m waiting for the correct season to prune.

My third vision is how everyone else sees my lawn and garden beds – a bit overgrown and in need of a good weeding. As I struggle to find the time, energy and cooperative weather to complete my gardening chores, I’m painfully aware that I can’t keep up. Accepting that I’m not going to achieve my dream garden makes me a reality gardener.

Coping with Reality Gardening

Coping with reality gardening is easier said than done. When my other responsibilities in life leave me little time for gardening, here’s what I do to keep my spirits up and my work efforts moving forward:

  • Stay focused – I keep a written list of everything that needs done. I can choose gardening chores based on my available time that day, which makes me feel less overwhelmed. Plus, checking items off a list at the end of the day is satisfying.
  • Keep it simple – I have very few special plants that need TLC. Most of my yard is filled with trees, shrubs, flowers and veggies that are well-suited to my climate and require minimal care.
  • Prioritize – Any task which, left undone, would result in the loss of a plant, gets moved to the top my to-do list. This includes watering during dry spells, weeding around newly germinated seedlings and acting quickly when plants are threatened by pests, critters or disease.
  • Multitask – I love to tackle two or more complimentary gardening chores at the same time. For instance, when I cut my grass, I catch the clippings and use them to mulch my veggie garden. 
  • Work wisely – If I overdo it in the hot sun or continue working when my body begins to hurt, I know I’ll lose valuable gardening time in the days to come. Staying hydrated, taking breaks, and switching to less strenuous jobs when needed keeps me both physically and mentally able to cope with reality gardening.
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