Gardening in a challenging economy

by Pam Roy, edited by Bruce Gaudette
December 30, 2009

Despite those HGTV shows featuring lavish landscapes of natural stone patios, stunning waterfalls and the latest in outdoor kitchens, this is not realistic for most people.  Many of us are experiencing some different economic realities and looking for creative ways to maximize our resources.

Yes, it’s inspiring to watch those instant landscapes materialize on a television show; and yes, there are ways to make that happen in your own garden, short of being the recipient of a TV miracle make-over.  When people cut down on travel and vacation to economize, they often turn to creating a vacation haven in their own years.  Historically, gardens were a place of sanctuary and beauty, a safe haven.

What better place, than our own back yards to have the benefit of a peaceful place of quiet and beauty that we can retreat to on a daily basis.  With competing demands for our finances, there is no need to give up our enjoyment of natural beauty and a place to relax.  It may be even more important to acknowledge the grounded foundation this offers in everyday lives.

Take a moment to think about what it is that you really want to get from your yard. Is it an area for community, to celebrate family, friends, and neighbors?  Perhaps an area for play is important; room to play catch, hit a croquet ball, play badminton, let the children build sand forts.  Maybe a place to relax is what you crave; a hammock hung in the shade with a soft breeze rustling the tree leaves a private spot to sit quietly and just breathe in the rhythm of the surrounding space, a place to daydream, to forget about traffic, the news, the stock market, etc.  Or, you may be looking for a way to co-create with neighbors, a community garden space that allows you to enjoy trading your edible crops, delighting in the flavor of a crisp green bean just picked or a handful of sweet juicy blueberries.

A creative approach to designing your yard can make this a great time to enhance your yard.  Consult a professional landscape designer to make cost effective choices and maximize your investment.  Look at cost saving options such as making your own mulch, using recycled materials for raised beds and hardscapes.  Shop for garden ornaments and containers in the off season, taking advantage of winter discounts.

Simplify the garden, featuring a few well-placed focal points to create calm and elegant beauty.  Visit garage sales for saving on garden tools and pots.  Team up with a landscape contractor and decide what parts of the garden you can install yourself and what you will need help with.  Plan to install your garden in phases and celebrate each completed step.

Don’t let newspaper headlines keep you from going ahead and creating your own personal garden haven.  Yes, acknowledge your own fiscal realities, but keep investing in your dreams, your future and your garden.

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