In January, people just naturally think about goals for the coming year and how they can improve their lives. Because I am a business owner, I am very interested in what techniques my employees could use to improve their productivity. I have spent the last quarter of the year studying this topic and creating planners to help them organize themselves and reach their goals.

Normally, we don’t think of gardening as an area for goal setting or organization. I believe that planning can help us achieve great things, and gardening is no exception. If we have a planner filled with our gardening goals, as well as useful information, this coming year can end with a sense of satisfaction in all that we have accomplished during 2018. So, how can we organize this portion of our lives?

The first thing you need is a notebook in which to place your goals and ideas. Having spent weeks researching what is available, I have learned some important things to consider. First, you need a planner or notebook that is large enough for your needs. Make sure that it opens and closes easily with rings that snap shut without any gaps.

You won’t use a planner that is a struggle to load with paper or to open or close. Since you may find yourself taking the planner out to the garden, it should have a wipe-clean surface.

Dividers will help you organize the planner. Have a section for your goals and the steps to accomplishing them. Include a budget if you are considering a high-price project such as adding a deck or patio, or anything needing the services of a landscape company. Use another section for photos of landscaping that you would like to have in your yard. Also include photos of plants that you want to buy.

Nursery Visit

Use this list when you order seeds or visit a nursery this spring. It will help you save money and remember what you want to achieve. When you make a list of wanted plants, it is important to include with each one a list of requirements for each plant. Does the plant take full sun, part sun or shade? Does it require protection from frost? And this is very important: how much space do you need between this plant and other landscape plants?

Once you get to the nursery, you will save money if you know the mature size of the plant and the mature spacing between plants. Often you will purchase as many as twice the number of plants you actually need because they look so small at the nursery. Instead, purchase some annuals to fill in empty spaces until the plants have matured.

Keep Information

Save any information that will help you become more knowledgeable about gardening. Articles such as the ones here in Waco Today, notes from websites, lists and suggestions from good Texas gardening books can all help you remember what you need to know throughout the coming year.

If you go to a lecture on gardening, take notes and save them to your planner. Everything you need to succeed will be in one handy place. The Master Gardeners have a monthly lecture at the Carleen Bright Arboretum to teach the community all about gardening. We would love for you to attend. This coming year I will be teaching a class on Asian gardening, and there are many other Master Gardeners who will help you learn about what you need to know to be successful and help you get enthusiastic about your landscaping possibilities in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Photograph Progress

Your planner should also have photos you have taken of your garden. You should track your progress with before and after photos. Also, if you are somewhere out and about and you see an attractive plant or a great landscaping idea, snap a photo on your phone and include it in your planner. If your kids or grandchildren help this year in the garden, be sure to include photos of their accomplishments. This will be great fun to review in the coming years.

We have many beautiful plants that can make your home lovelier and inviting to both your family and visitors. Creating a natural sanctuary for contemplation and an escape from the busyness of life will provide you with many hours of needful rest and peace.

Involve the children in your life in the growing of your own vegetables. Teach them about respect for nature and the little creatures that share our environment. With proper planning and knowledge, you can have a great landscape. Start creating that gardening planner today.

Melody Fitzgerald is a McLennan County Master Gardener who has spent more than 35 years facing the challenges of Central Texas gardening.