Ditch the pressure of resolutions! Set SMART goals for your garden instead and watch it flourish. Get tips and tricks for easy-care, low-maintenance gardening

As the calendar flips to a new year, a sense of renewal and fresh starts fills the air. It’s a time to reflect on the past, set intentions for the future, and embark on new beginnings. And what better place to start than your own backyard?

Gardening offers a unique opportunity for growth, not just for your plants, but for yourself as well. It’s a chance to connect with nature, learn new skills, and create a beautiful outdoor space that brings you joy and satisfaction.

This new year, consider setting goals for your garden, plan how you want to execute your garden goals, and watch it flourish into a thriving oasis.

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Setting Goals: A Better Path Than Creating New Year Resolutions

While New Year’s resolutions are often associated with fresh starts, they can sometimes feel restrictive and daunting. Setting goals, however, offers a more flexible and sustainable approach to personal growth and achievement, particularly in the gardening realm.

I love to set goals for my personal, professional, and gardening life each year because it gives me something to look forward to while making improvements in areas I wish to grow.

There’s a reason I’ve gone from attorney to master gardener to marathoner to blogger and author. And it’s because I set small manageable goals for myself at the onset of each new year that I met and decided to aim and achieve more.

Stacy Ling running a half marathon

Goal Setting vs. Resolutions

Setting goals is a great way to tweak different areas of your life in a very manageable way. Here’s why I prefer them to making a New Year’s Resolution.

  1. Focus on the Long Term: Unlike resolutions, which are typically limited to a single year, goals can be set for any timeframe, allowing you to focus on long-term aspirations and develop a roadmap for your progress.
  2. Increased Motivation: When you set goals based on your own values and desires, they become intrinsically motivating. This intrinsic motivation is far more powerful than the external pressure associated with resolutions, leading to greater commitment and sustained effort.
  3. Flexibility and Adaptability: Life is full of surprises, and rigid resolutions can often crumble under unexpected circumstances. Goals, on the other hand, are more adaptable. You can adjust them as needed, allowing you to navigate life’s changes while still moving towards your desired outcomes.
  4. Emphasis on Process and Progress: Resolutions often focus solely on the end result, neglecting the importance of the journey. Goals, however, encourage you to celebrate the process and acknowledge the progress you make along the way. This reinforces positive behavior and promotes a sense of accomplishment, further fueling your motivation.
  5. Personalized Growth: New Year’s resolutions often follow popular trends or societal expectations, which may not align with your individual needs and desires. Setting goals allows you to tailor your ambitions to your unique personality, interests, and values, creating a growth path that is truly meaningful and fulfilling.
  6. Empowering and Self-Reliant: When you set and achieve goals, you gain a sense of control over your life and a deep belief in your own capabilities. This self-confidence empowers you to tackle future challenges and pursue your dreams with greater determination and optimism.

So, instead of making fleeting New Year’s resolutions, why not embrace the power of setting goals? By outlining your ambitions, charting your course, and celebrating your progress, you’ll embark on a journey of personal growth that is not only rewarding but also sustainable and empowering.

dahlia kogane fubuki in the potager garden
Dahlia Kogane Fubuki

Identifying Your Gardening Goals

Before diving headfirst into resolutions, take a moment to reflect on your previous gardening year. What worked well? What could be improved? And what are your ultimate goals for your garden? Ask yourself the following questions to help you drill down on what you want to achieve in your garden.

  • What did you enjoy most about gardening last year?
  • What challenges did you face?
  • What aspects of your garden would you like to improve?
  • What do you hope to achieve with your garden in the coming year?
  • How much time and effort can you realistically dedicate to gardening?

Once you have a clearer picture of your desired outcomes, you can start setting SMART, attainable, and realistic goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals are more likely to be successful, keeping you focused and motivated throughout the year.

So instead of establishing a New Year’s resolution, think about it in terms of what you want to accomplish this year, how you’ll get there, and what is reasonable that you’ll do. This has been my personal roadmap for growth every year of my life.

One of the problems with establishing a resolution is that they start off feeling reasonable and attainable but in reality, they are tough to maintain without a flexible plan. And once you start falling off the wagon, it’s pretty easy to give up. Am I right?

Identifying goals, regardless of whether they are in the garden are not, sets us on a path that is flexible, reasonable, and achievable.

stacy ling cutting zinnia flowers in her garden

Exploring Your Goals

Now comes the fun part: brainstorming specific tasks to help you reach your gardening goals! Here are some garden ideas to spark your creativity. Just keep in mind to keep it manageable so you don’t feel overwhelmed during the growing season.

Growing Techniques:

  • Master a new skill: Learn about composting, seed starting, container gardening, or a specific gardening technique like cut flower gardening that interests you.
  • Experiment with new plants: Try growing different plants and flower varieties you’ve never tried before or experiment with different planting methods.
  • Go green: Implement sustainable gardening practices like rainwater harvesting, organic pest control, or reducing your reliance on chemical fertilizers.

This year, I am going to start a bunch of plants from seed using the winter sowing method that I’ve not grown from seed before. Because winter sowing works so well here, I am going to do it on a much larger scale this winter after the holidays. I already bought my seeds and I can’t wait to get started!

Home and garden blogger stacy ling walking in the formal garden during spring with daffodils

Garden Design & Layout:

To give you an example, last year, I designed the potager garden, where I grow vegetables, herbs, and my cut flower garden. It turned out better than I imagined! My husband knocked it out of the park with those raised garden beds he built, the fountain spruced things up, and everything grew so well this past year.

annual flowers in the potager garden by a fountain - cut flower garden or cottage garden ideas

Plant Selection & Care:

Not sure what to plant that is a low-maintenance plant? Start with these easy-care flowers for a beautiful garden.

Time Management & Efficiency:

  • Develop a gardening schedule: Plan your tasks and create a realistic routine to maximize your time and effort.
  • Utilize time-saving tools: Invest in tools like mulching, drip irrigation , or raised garden beds to simplify your gardening tasks.
  • Share the work: Delegate tasks or involve family and friends to lighten the workload and create a shared experience.
summer garden deer resistant flowers with butterfly bush and caryopteris

Tips for Success

Remember, achieving goals is a journey, not a destination. Here are some tips to keep you on track during the new year:

  • Break down your goals into smaller, manageable steps.
  • Plan how you will execute your garden goals and think them through.
  • Focus on consistency and regular maintenance.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help or join a gardening community.
  • Celebrate your successes, no matter how small.
  • Embrace the learning process and enjoy the journey!
gomphrena rudbeckia and sedum autumn joy by front porch in fall

My Gardening Goals for the New Year

With all this talk about the new year and new goals, you might be wondering what mine are! There are so many things that I want to do here that it can get a little overwhelming just thinking about it.

Last year, I focused on the potager garden and creating more of an outdoor living space by the front pond garden.

This year, I want to work on the pool garden. There’s a large section that is a hot mess and needs a complete overhaul, so that is first up this spring. It has lots of old trees and shrubs that have seen better days that need to be removed and I’d love to plant the space up with hydrangeas.

I’d also like to get started on the garden bed where we removed the tree in the front yard, but that will come second to the pool garden this year.

And, I want to tweak the formal garden and am starting lots of annuals and perennials from seed with plants that are deer resistant to save a little money at the garden nursery this spring. I must focus on deer-resistant flowers so I don’t have to spray deer repellents like I do in other gardens.

These are lofty goals, I know, but I can work on them little by little so it’s not overwhelming.

cottage garden by the pool in early fall
Cottage garden that sits outside the pool fence in early fall

Pulling It All Together

Setting and achieving New Year’s goals for your garden can be a rewarding experience. It allows you to nurture your creativity, connect with nature, and create a beautiful space that reflects your unique personality and brings you joy.

It gives you something to work toward as you learn and grow beautiful, bountiful things. So, this year, embrace the opportunity to grow alongside your plants and watch your garden transform into a thriving haven of beauty and peace.

potager garden in late october with hydrangea flowers, vintage bicycle and outdoor dining table

More About Setting Goals for a Thriving Garden in the New Year

What gardening goals will you be striving for this new year? I would love to know more in the comments below.

And don’t miss joining my Gardening DIY and Decorating Community on Facebook for more chatter. And follow along there and on Instagram as well. There are behind-the-scenes daily things that I share on Instagram that don’t make it to the blog. Would love to see you there too!

If you prefer to binge-watch Bricks ’n Blooms on TV, we go more in-depth with tours and posts on my YouTube channel. Would love to hang out with you there!

And… If you’re catching up on blog posts you may have missed, be sure to sign-up to get my newest posts via email to stay up to date with everything that’s happening here on the blog and more.

purple coneflowers (echinacea)

Garden Supplies I Use

Since I’ve been gardening for well over twenty-five years, I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. Here are some of my favorites that I use in no particular order.

dahlia kogane fubuki in the potager garden

Click here to shop my favorite garden supplies!

Stacy Ling with her book the bricks n blooms guide to a beauitful and easy care flower garden

If you’ve always dreamed of bringing country charm to your home while creating a beautiful, relaxing space, I got you! Learn how to grow flowers in even the smallest of spaces with my easy-care, low-maintenance approach.

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close up of strawflowers, snapdragons, and a cut flower garden
daffodil garden in early spring

Bricks ‘n Blooms Weekly 178

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variety of vibrant dahlia flowers in a colorful cut flower garden

Small Space Gardening: The All-You-Need Guide to Growing Showstopping Dahlias in Pots

Short on growing space but want to grow dahlias? This comprehensive guide empowers you to cultivate stunning dahlias in pots. Discover the right pot size, sun needs, feeding tips, and expert techniques for endless blooms.  If you’ve got limited growing space but still want to grow beautiful showy blooms, this post is for you! Today,…
Read More Small Space Gardening: The All-You-Need Guide to Growing Showstopping Dahlias in Pots

Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

Want to learn more about me? I’m a master gardener who’s been gardening and growing things for over 25 years and author of the best-selling book, The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden. Get the inside scoop about my background as a master gardener, education, and experience, as well as why I started blogging here.

stacy ling cutting dahlias in her garden

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