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10 New Year’s Resolutions for Gardeners

Make a New Year's resolution to garden smarter, greener and—yes—easier this coming year. Try some of these resolutions on for size and see which ones fill the bill.

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Devil's tongue flowerKonstantin Aksenov/Getty Images

Try a New or Unfamiliar Plant

Growing the same plants year after year yields consistent results, but trying a new plant is half the fun of gardening. Plant an exotic bulb, such as devil’s tongue (amorphophallus konjac), or go for an uncommonly pretty climbing plant, such as hops.

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seeds826A IA/Shutterstock

Start Your Own Seeds

It’s easy and pain free. You can try unique varieties not found as seedlings at the big box stores. And it’ll save a ton of money. A packet of seeds is a couple bucks and can produce dozens of plants. All it really takes to start your own seeds is a seed tray, soilless potting mix and seeds. Plastic seed trays can be used over and over again, too. And when you start the seeds indoors, you can get a head start on the planting season.

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foodGary Perkin/Shutterstock

Compost Your Kitchen Scraps

All those leftover salad greens, onion layers, cucumber peels, coffee grounds, tea bags and egg shells are much too valuable to send to the landfill. They’re easy to collect in a compost pail. When I get enough, I can either add them to a compost pile outdoors or dig them directly into the ground, where they’ll break down and feed my garden.

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DIY garden shed tool storageFamily Handyman

Find a Place for Tools, Materials and Leftover Scraps From DIY Projects

Storing your tools out of the elements will make them last longer and keep the neighbors happy. Add storage space in the garage, invest in a shed or build another garden tool storage spot.

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shopDean Drobot/Shutterstock

Use Green and Natural Products — and Fewer Harsh Chemicals

Because I’m composting now, I’ll be making my own natural fertilizer. And when I do need a garden chemical, I’ll see whether there’s an organic alternative instead. Mother Nature will thank me for it.

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toolLion 168/Shutterstock

Take Care of Your Tools

Bring your tools inside and out of the rain to prevent rust, and restore any old tools. This also means using them properly—unlike that time I ruined perfectly good hand pruners trying to cut a thick stem that required much larger loppers.

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bird DJ Taylor/Shutterstock

Be Kinder to Animals

Feed the birds (and maybe even the squirrels if it’s a harsh winter). And grow plants and flowers for bees and birds. Birds like evergreens for shelter, ornamental grasses for bedding, and all kinds of berried bushes for food.

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install valves garbage cans rain barrelsFamily Handyman

Save Water Around the House

There are many ways to conserve water in the garden, like building a rain barrel. Given a choice, I’ll grow drought-tolerant plants like succulents and cacti. I’ll make sure hoses and spigots are free of leaks. I’ll water infrequently but deeply so plant roots grow down instead of congregating near the surface. Also, I’ll start using a soaker hose instead of an overhead sprinkler, which causes too much evaporation.

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grow Petrychenko Anton/Shutterstock

Keep the Soil Around My Garden Covered

This will conserve soil moisture, put the lid on weeds, and keep the ground from cracking if we get a dry spell. Reuse and recycle yard waste as mulch instead of throwing it out. A mulch of leaves works great—and there’s no shortage of them in fall. In spring and summer I can use grass clippings if I put them on thinly. Wood chips are a longer-term solution. I can either buy them bagged or probably get some free from my municipal composting site.

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chairAntoniya G. Kozhuharova/Shutterstock

Enjoy Your Garden

Gardens are meant to be enjoyed. Instead of stressing about it being perfect and overworking when it’s too hot or buggy, try to spend more time simply enjoying the outdoor space. Whether it’s sniffing flowers in the morning or relaxing in a comfy chair with a beverage in the evening.

Luke Miller
Luke Miller is an award-winning garden editor with 25 years' experience in horticultural communications, including editing a national magazine and creating print and online gardening content for a national retailer. He grew up across the street from a park arboretum and has a lifelong passion for gardening in general and trees in particular. In addition to his journalism degree, he has studied horticulture and is a Master Gardener.