By the time many of you are reading this you may of recently unwrapped a nice surprise from Santa. Or perhaps finishing up that holiday meal or enjoying your favorite football team on TV. Maybe even celebrated the brand new year of 2017. Ah yes, the holidays are such a great time of year. Even though we tend to get into a “take a break” mode it can be a really good time to look back at the past year and evaluate what we did well and things perhaps we would like to tweak a bit and do a better job or improve upon. It’s a good time of evaluation and planning for the upcoming year.

This can also be a great time of year to give the same type of evaluation to your landscaping. What worked out well? What didn’t? Keep in mind that reviewing this year’s gardening triumphs and defeats is the best guarantee of success when designing the following year’s garden. Garden design requires a knowledge of plants and you’ve got a whole garden full to learn from. Don’t let that experience go to waste, just because a season is winding down.

What went right? What always brought a smile to your face? There’s usually at least one section of your garden that works really well. That should be a key to telling you what your style of gardening is, as well as what truly grows well in your conditions. Was it the blue iris that bloomed with the bright yellow daylilies? The hummingbirds flying to your Butterfly Bush? The way your Chinese Fringe Flower made all the other plants pop? Viewing your garden in small sections makes it easy to set up season long eye candy!

What went wrong? Did the year seem like the endless year of problems? Always out there keeping things cut back? Some weird bugs showed up on your favorite plants and started eating on them and you were not sure what to do exactly? Everything seemed dying for a drink of water but your water restrictions or lack of your own time kept denying their thirst and they seemed to stay alive but not thrive?

Did you find yourself telling guests, “I wish you’d been here last week, when [fill in the blank] was in bloom?” You need to play with the sequence of bloom in your gardens. Strive for having a different section at peak at different times, rather than trying to have the whole garden in flower all season. And give more focus to colorful and unusual foliage that’s stunning all season.

Have enthusiastic growers crowded out other plants? If you’re wondering how your lilies turned into a jungle, it’s time to think about doing some thinning and dividing. If you don’t have the time for it now, at least mark the plants this fall or winter, so you won’t be tempted to let them be in the spring. New gardeners like instant plants. As your garden matures, you need to be more selective about what gets space in it. If you’re pulling your hair out about too many plants having the run of your garden, consider putting in larger plants and more specimen shrubs.

Perhaps your garden was beautiful but you just don’t seem to be enjoying it the way you used to. What about those pesky weeds? Did the weeds get away from you? Make a note to mulch earlier next year. Sometimes we get caught up in planting or waiting to see what has self-seeded. Before you know it, it’s July and every weed seed that landed in your borders has now firmly taken hold. Mulching isn’t fun, but it can free up so much time you would otherwise spend weeding and watering. If you really hate to mulch, get more plants. Exposed soil is an open invitation to weeds.

Did you take the actual time to smell your own roses? Did you spend any time sitting and enjoying your garden or better still, entertaining in your garden? It’s a joy to work in a garden, but you need to take time to appreciate what you’ve created. If you don’t have a seating area (or 2 or 3) in your garden, design one this winter. Whether it’s a small table and chairs, a couple of functional chairs or a stone patio with a fire pit, if you build it, they will come. Nothing pulls guests into the garden faster than a chair with a view?

These are just a very few ideas that pop into my head when I begin to evaluate my or a clients landscaping. Perhaps it will help you do the same. Now back to those new year resolutions and I think I am getting hungry again…

Until next time…

Happy gardening and I wish peace and prosperity to all of you in the new year.


Send your landscaping and gardening questions to Jimmie Gibson Jr. at or in care of the Prosper Press at Jimmie is the owner of Absolutely Bushed Landscaping Company. He is a resident in Prosper. His landscaping and gardening column runs every other week in the Prosper Press.