By Megan Hatch
Confessions of a non-gardener
I can vaguely remember weeding a few times as a kid, but that’s the extent of my yard work experience. In fact, until last month I had never mowed a lawn, never pruned a tree (didn’t even know what pruning was), and had never been to a plant nursery. I am what you would call a non-gardener. But this past winter I did something crazy. I moved into my first house—you know, the kind with a yard to maintain. These are my confessions, but also my lessons learned during my first month of gardening:
Lesson #1: Green thumbs are not required.
On my first day of gardening I tackled a planter bed in front of my house. After an hour of digging around with a screwdriver and a fork (the only gardening tools I had), I looked over to see my neighbor working in her immaculate, weed-free yard and I sighed. I knew my yard would never look like hers. My neighbor probably had a “green thumb” and for me, that seemed about as attainable as becoming a snake charmer. But after a few more minutes of struggle with my screwdriver and my weeds, I sheepishly approached my neighbor.
“Hi” I said. “I noticed that you have a beautiful yard. Any chance you could answer some questions for me?”
She kindly agreed and as we looked at the planting bed with which I had just been wrestling I asked, “So… how do I fix it?” My neighbor shrugged her shoulders and just told me to take out the weeds and anything dead. She lent me some tools and I got back to work. It wasn’t long before I began to see some real improvement. And that is when I realized that maybe I didn’t need a green thumb after all. Turns out any thumb can pull a weed.
Lesson #2: Just start
As I cleared out my first planter bed, I realized that I had spent so much time being terrified to do something wrong that I hadn’t done anything and in not doing anything I had actually done something wrong. Does that make sense?
It is easy to want to change a landscape, but much, much harder to actually start. Day one of gardening I only tackled one planter bed. But that is fine. Because day two I tackled the second. My first week of gardening taught me the importance of starting.
And when you don’t know how to start, there is always someone to ask. Which leads me to lesson number three:
Lesson #3: Non-gardeners are not alone.
I had a neighbor who was willing to help me. But I also have access to amazing co-workers at Conservation Garden Park. And guess what? You do too! The Garden teaches visitors about Utah-friendly plants and how to have a landscape that works for Utah. Admission is free, and there are more than 50 classes on all sorts of gardening topics from irrigation, to pruning, to park strip design. You can learn more and sign up for classes by visiting www.conservationgardenpark.org. And who knows, I will probably see you there!