How to Deal with Garden Overwhelm

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your garden? Too much to do? Weeds out of control? Pests or diseases bringing devastation and disappointment? The growth has gotten away from you? An abundance of crops that need harvesting? Not sure where to start? Or perhaps you have a vision for what you want to create but it seems insurmountable. We all feel like giving up with garden overwhelm at times. But don’t despair!

How to Deal with Garden Overwhelm - Helpful Tips

Experiencing Garden Overwhelm

Sometimes a health issue takes hold or we may be away from home. It doesn’t take long for a garden to get out of control. Often we get behind over spring and summer. Hot, humid and wet days make it too uncomfortable or impractical to be outdoors. It’s incredibly draining to garden in heat and humidity. Often, we don’t feel like going outside. So our normal maintenance routine can quickly fall behind. Prolonged rain conditions can turn our tidy gardens into jungle nightmares.

Consequently, by the time we venture out to get some work done, weeds are rampant. Plants need pruning and grass is almost impossible to mow. In these weather conditions, every pest and disease known to mankind has the perfect conditions to thrive! Enter garden overwhelm.

Overgrown garden beds needing weeding pruning and maintenance

Overgrown garden beds needing weeding pruning and maintenance

Overgrown Gardens Bring Challenges

Last year, we spent months trying to keep our plants alive in drought. Daily watering was exhausting. Then drought turned to heatwaves, torrential rain and storms. Like many gardeners, we’ve had a LOT of rain recently. It’s been a blessing. The water tanks have filled again to overflowing. The water table rose and the soil moisture reservoir has been restored. As a result, I haven’t had to spend as much time or energy watering, especially in the heatwaves this summer. What a relief.

However, the heat and moisture has caused plant growth to accelerate literally overnight. Coupled with the new moon phase with high sap flow, the growth is phenomenal and very overwhelming. Waiting days to get outside when it’s been raining means that a well-tended accessible garden has suddenly become an untamed jungle.

Hedges suddenly need severe haircuts. Sweet potato vines and pumpkins have overtaken large areas they weren’t intended to grow. I cut the vines back for compost, bury them to build soil and give away armfuls of cuttings. I harsh prune them every other day. Despite these efforts, they just grow back again. Arnold Schwarzenegger famously said “I’ll be back!” and my pumpkins seem to be sending me the same message. It’s a battle trying to tame a beast that regrows overnight. At least we’ll have a decent harvest that will store well for months.

I'll Be Back! Overgrown pumpkins can cause garden overwhelm

5 Steps to Deal with Garden Overwhelm

So how do we cope when the garden feels depressingly wild, unmanageable and daunting? These are a few strategies to make progress and regain control.

Step 1: Take the pressure off

Firstly, make your peace with an imperfect garden. Depending on your time, energy and weather conditions, the garden’s condition will ebb and flow. Be OK with that! If some plants die back, compost them. After all, they will still be in your garden – just in another form. Feeding other plants by building healthy soil.

Turn garden overwhelm into an asset by collecting garden green waste in portable bags for composting

I collect garden green waste in portable bags for composting while there is an abundance of lush  growth

Step 2: Make a list of the tasks that NEED to get done and prioritise them

What jobs can’t wait? What is less urgent? Focus on completing one job at a time rather than trying to multi-task. Next,  you can make a plan to start on the most important jobs first. I’ve put together a free PDF Download to help you tackle garden tasks in small bites.

Tips to Tackle Garden Tasks in Small Bites Free PDF Download

Step 3: Break the inertia and get momentum again

Decide on a start date and time. Make an appointment with yourself if necessary! Choose the most critically urgent job and take action. One step at a time, even in a five or ten minute block. Go at a pace you can manage while regaining control and kicking your goals. Once you see progress, you will feel a sense of control and accomplishment.

For example, I transplanted a couple of passionfruit into a raised garden bed a fortnight ago. They didn’t like the heatwave. Neither did I. I managed to water them thoroughly several times to help prevent transplant shock so they could settle in. Now they’ve taken off and have climbed the first four wires in the trellis and are looking for where to go next. I didn’t think they’d have such prolific growth so fast. So, adding more wire strands and tensioning them are high priority this week along with tying the vines up. I’m shuffling the to do list.

How to Deal with Garden Overwhelm: 5 MINUTE GARDENING CHECK LIST Free PDF Download

Download my 5 Minute Gardening Check List for easy daily tasks. It’s another free PDF tool to help you deal with garden overwhelm. Enjoy!

Step 4: Get organised to maximise efficiency

If you have limited time and energy or breaks in the weather, you need to be ready for the job at hand. Spend a few minutes sorting your seeds. Have tools in one spot. A portable tub, garden apron or tool belt make it easy. I wear my harvesting apron with my gloves, secateurs, plant ties, crop protection bags, scissors, string, plant labels etc in the pockets. I pop it on and am ready for a variety of tasks.

Be organised with garden tools ready to use

Be organised with garden tools ready to use

Step 5: Celebrate every achievement

A big handful of weeds. Seeds sown. A plant potted. Turn frustration into a feeling of fulfillment as you successfully complete a task. Progress trumps perfection. Done is better than perfect!

Helpful Tips for Coping When Garden Tasks are a Burden

  • Tip 1. Change your Mindset on Weeds. An abundance of weeds isn’t all bad! Weeds do the pioneering work of drawing up minerals deep within the subsoil to remediate nutrient deficiencies. Yes, they have a beneficial role. They accumulate nutrients in their biomass and many weeds are edible. By utilising their ‘work’ you can add the leaves, stems and roots to water to make a liquid fertiliser. Strain and water back in where you removed them from the soil. This returns nutrients to the surface soil. The weeds won’t need to reappear as balance has been returned. There’s a silver lining in everything!

(more…)