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Refreshing Your Landscape this Spring

We know that once we see even the smallest signs of the season changing from winter to spring, our minds race toward the potential of warm weather — the sights, sounds, and smells of the spring and summer months. 


While it’s easy to dream about reinvigorating your landscape after a long and gray winter, it can be difficult to set realistic and attainable goals that will help you to enjoy your space throughout the year to come … and beyond! 

Whether you’re new to your space, or you’ve been there for decades, there’s always something you can do to refresh it.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably gotten inspired and have gone to your local garden center and filled a basket or cart with all the pretty things, only to realize that you have no plan and no idea about what to actually do with any of your purchases.

Then you might stress and plant them haphazardly, or maybe you freak out so much that you never even plant the pretty things, and they end up frying in their pots on the side of your house (guilty as charged here).

Many of my clients are newer to caring for their own landscape, or they’re returning to it after years of taking a break; they often don’t know where to begin.

It takes some intention, some time and can cost some money, but my goal is always to maximize each of those elements.

This Spring, Aim for a Garden Refresh

What is a garden refresh? A garden refresh is attainable, sustainable and maintainable. Keep this in mind as you move forward with your own garden refresh!

Growth Mindset

Approaching your refresh with a growth mindset is an important place to start – A growth mindset means that you’re aware you don’t yet know something, but you’re open to learning and trying. And, if something doesn’t go as planned, you also know you’ll figure it out. 

It’s absolutely okay to pursue progress over perfection. 

Step-by-Step: Goal Setting

Here’s a universal truth that translates to your outdoor spaces as well: You don’t have to do all the things all at once. Think of the long-game and what you want to see first/soon. 

In pursuit of progress as you refresh your space, it’s important to set attainable goals. 

A few good questions to ask yourself:

  1. What are my goals for this year?
  2. What’s my two-year, five-year, etc., goal? 
  3. What do I want to see, smell, feel, hear in this space? 
  4. How much money am I willing to spend?**
  5. How much time do I really have to dedicate to care and upkeep? 
  6. Why am I investing my time, energy and funds here? 

**Homeowners and gardeners often laugh when I ask about their garden or landscape budget, as if that’s an unrealistic thing to add to one’s budget line items.

I know. I know. It’s easy to spend and splurge, and I’ve done the same. However, in our family budget, we have dialed it in and know the months that we spend the most on gardening, then we set a line item for those months every year. 

When we get inspired to do another bigger project, we’ll do some research, get quotes from contractors when needed, and set aside funds. There can be great freedom within the boundaries of a budget.


Once you’ve answered a few of your questions, and maybe spoken with others in your household, it’s good to consider what the next best steps are, and then what your practical next steps are.

Refresh Actions 

Edit! 

Remove what’s not serving you and your space. Do you have a bunch of excess garden stuff or old junk in the space? Take it to the curb, share it to a Buy Nothing group on Facebook, recycle it, etc.

Not only will it feel visually more appealing, your view of the space will change and you’re likely to gain greater vision and enjoyment of that space!

Shift your mindset! 

Consider your landscape an extension of your home and see your outdoor spaces as rooms:

  • What furniture, color and light do you want to see? 
  • What do you want to experience there? 
  • What function will those spaces serve you?

Sketch it out! 

Before you start digging, spend some time looking at your space:

  • Take some pictures.
  • Take some measurements.
  • Write ideas on paper (or on your computer) and use this as an outline.
  • Start to sketch out the garden/flower beds you want to add.
  • Decide on things you want to add or remove and get an overall vision for your space.

Add color! 

Just as you think about what colors you like to wear and what feels best on you, consider the same thing for your garden. 

What do you want to see and enjoy? 

Did your neighbor just put up a long, white vinyl fence? You might consider adding some colorful shrubs or perennial plants to change up the view. 

Whether you want a simple palette of three colors, or you want an entire rainbow in your space, you won’t regret adding the colors you love most (and that attract beneficial insects to your space)!

Create (or tweak) your watering plan! 

This is one of the best investments you can make, in my opinion. 

Whether you have an in-ground irrigation system, want one, or just need to audit how you water your space, you need a good plan. 

Don’t have a clue where to start? Call an irrigation business and ask for a quote. Let them know what you’re looking for and your short-and-long-term goals. They’ll know how to advise. 

Not ready for that? Invest in some new hoses and perhaps a watering you can keep in a visible spot.

Suck it up!

Do the things that you’ve been actively avoiding. Have you delayed on removing that one sick old tree? Is there a corner of your yard filled with weeds? 

  • Set a timer for 15 minutes a few times a week, and it’ll be clean in no time.
  • What are the three things you’ve been avoiding? Write them down. 
  • Then think realistically: How long would it take you to complete each task? 
  • What tools or help do you need? 
  • What’s the first step you can take to make it happen? 

Ask for help! 

When you’re at the garden nursery, strike up a conversation with another shopper, or one of the staff members, and ask for suggestions!

Have a big job? Call a landscape company for a quote and a timeline.

Looking for support on DIY projects or on how to grow your first raised bed? Call a garden coach, a consultant or a landscaper to advise and support you along the way!

Getting in the Mindset for a Garden Refresh

Think of how you want to steward the land. You’re refreshing your space, so why not think about how you can better care for the land you’ve been entrusted with?

Previous homeowners may have had a different mindset. You can start working with the land to renew and revive it in a way that is healthier for you and your loved ones, as well as the beneficial birds, insects and creatures in your neck of the woods. 

You may add pollinator-friendly or waterwise plants, use organic or regenerative practices, reduce the use of plastic, or … the list is endless.

I love to think of the garden as a laboratory where you can try things out and keep trying until it feels like the space you’ve dreamed of enjoying. 

As a steward of the land you live upon, you get to care for that space in the ways that matter most to you. So if, as you refresh, you start to fall in love with the process of gardening and tending to your outdoor spaces, lean into that, keep adding to your knowledge and tweak as you go. 

(And hey: remember to pace yourself!)

Josh Cleveland

As a self-taught gardener and voracious learner when it comes to home gardening and landscaping, Josh knows how beautiful and how frustrating it can be when learning to grow. While this garden coaching, consulting, and designing is a side-gig, it is a space that consumes much of his heart and mind as he seeks to support our community in its effort to add beauty to our region. His work centers on water-wise and pollinator-friendly landscapes and he loves showing others how lush and accessible this kind of landscape can be if you only give it some thought and intention.

READ ALL OF JOSH’S ARTICLES HERE.

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One Comment

  1. I really enjoyed this article! I feel inspired to tackle my rock garden this season and really try to make it look more how I want. Thanks for the tips!

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