When it comes to garden planning (and planting), I can only speak for myself. I try to use self-discipline when it comes to managing the yards and gardens; and what is to be grown there, planted there, and removed from there. Also I think about what will save time, money, and work. With each passing year I give careful consideration to each of these, especially the "work" part!
My problem is that I seem to have this perennial notion that I am still in my virile youth, when in reality I’ve mellowed into a very much senior citizen! As such I find some restrictions in my “hands-on” approach to managing my two-acre patch of heaven on earth. Instead of hauling 300# in the wheelbarrow I now haul 150#. When I lay out the garden rows, I try to remember we will not consume 200 pounds of potatoes in the coming year, nor will we use two crates of winter onions. The same is true for fresh veggies such as green snap beans, lettuce, and tomatoes. A lot of work and garden space can be saved by not over-planting. In cases where we overproduce, there is always the neighborhood “gift” idea; and our local food charity is a great service to the community (and always in need of fresh foods). I guess the idea behind this paragraph is to be realistic and not over-plant in the first place. This alone can save time, money, and wasted food, not to mention unnecessary work and resources!
As noted above, I often need to remind myself of this: Gardens and landscapes require a lot of a little four-letter word called "W-O-R-K"
! I began planning more than thirty years ago when we bought this two-acre plot of trees and scrub. Back then it seemed time would literally go on forever with no interruptions or restrictions. Little did I know then of all the things life can throw at us! There would be babies born, storms, personal injuries, broken bones, surgeries, tonsils out, fillings in, appendix out, braces in, deaths, etc., etc. All of these things can and do occur to everyone! So we are not unique in having a few bumps in the road, but they all happen while we hold down full-time jobs, build homes, attend school programs and ball games, attend PTA meetings, and solve all the rest of life's problems. There is little wonder gardening is therapeutic! So it is a blessed relief to be able to place each problem or dilemma in its own place, deal with it, and carry on.
I suppose the next point I'd like to make is
this: I hate mowing around every little yard object, tree, or flower bed. So my idea here is to lay out a garden or bed where mowing around it is not a problem. In the picture at left I cannot get the riding mower down the grassy path, so that has to be push mowed. I should have laid out the path much wider than it is. In the picture at right I've made that garden an "island" surrounded by grass. There is no stopping the riding mower: I simply go around it. Then there are beds or gardens next to drives or buildings, such as the one at bottom left. I have agonized over tearing this one out to eliminate the hassle of snow removal in winter. Snow can drift here as much as five or more feet. The snow could be plowed away from the garage doors if this garden were removed. There was at one time a similar bed across the drive on the other side. Its removal has helped tremendously! The other pictures below illustrate how mowing is made easier by the layout of the gardens involved.
This article is not intended as a "cure-all" for garden and landscape problems. Instead it is more of an idea about planning ahead and visualizing for less work, stress reduction, and problem solving. After 30+ years of planning I can still see where improvements could have been made, and probably will yet be made. Plans are unique to each individual: What works for one might not work for another.