After too many years of hand watering and spending entire weekends maintaining our yard, I'm tired of my chores limiting my traveling, hiking and kayaking. I have decided to simplify my gardening life.
Every year at the end of summer, I say, "I will cut down on my hand watering; I'm putting in a drip system." While much of my yard has automatic irrigation, there are still a number of outlying trees and too many flowers that need my personal attention. However, when the weather cools off and my watering tasks end, I forget all about installing drip. When spring arrives, I'm so happy to be outdoors again, I love watering by hand and visiting my longtime plant "friends." Suddenly, 24 years have gone by and I am still spending most of my free time watering by hand.
My plan now is to eliminate a number of flowers, shrubs and trees that I normally water by hand and to run a drip system to those that remain. My rules for elimination will be if a plant is struggling, it's gone. If it's in a far away area of the yard with little visibility, it's gone. If it needs too much attention, such as a lot of pruning, watering or fertilizing, it's out of there. I won't let the evening primrose come up everywhere anymore. I will cut down the cherry trees that never bear fruit and are so prone to aphids. I will kill more lawn. I will only keep drought-tolerant plants and won't let so many things come up from seed.
Oh sure, I say that, but will I actually do it? Can I really give up my golden currants that the birds enjoy? What about that rhubarb plant that a dear Master Gardener gave me almost 20 years ago? So what if the roses aren't beautiful climbers, but are rather leggy and prone to powdery mildew? They only bloom in June with single red flowers, but they are delightful then. What about the crabapple that produces so many suckers and water sprouts that I have to prune it heavily twice a year? Its blooms are glorious in the spring. Should I cut it down, just to make my life easier?
"Yes," a part of me shouts, "I want to play, not work!" However, another part says, wait, think about it over winter.
The next free class in the Grow Your Own series is "Restoring Older Fruit Trees" today, 6 to 8 p.m. at 2621 Northgate, no.12. Call 887-2252 to reserve your spot.
JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 887-2252.