We moved to our home near Knoxville, TN in May of 2001. The house came with a huge above-ground swimming pool. In 2005, after knowing for quite some time that we were not pool people, we gave the pool away.
My husband spent about a month removing the old weathered decking and privacy fence. There were massive ruts in the soil underneath where the deck had been. We also found a concrete drain installed to catch the water that ran down our driveway. The ruts in the soil proved it wasn’t large enough to do the job.
Plan your work… and work your plan… right?
My plan was to create a shrub garden and patio in the area that the deck had covered and return the rest of the space to lawn. I was sure if I brought in a lot of soil, built the area up and planted it, the existing drain would work and there would not be any further water damage. I would discover after the fact that I was wrong.
I spent much of the summer of 2005 digging and amending soil and creating the shrub bed. This picture reveals the space before I planted the shrubs and mulched the bed. The first hard rain washed away my new mulch and dug a gully through the shrub bed.
I retaliated by creating a rock lined dry creek through the shrub bed. The rock area worked to keep the mulch in place, but the lawn and future patio area still flooded every time we had a gully washer. It left a muddy mess.
I decided I needed a longer creek that would carry the water across the twenty foot flat area of the backyard and drop it where the yard slopes downhill. Great plan but I had a problem. I could not visualize the path for the creek. Nothing that I imagined seemed to look right and I didn’t know why.
What did I do? Nothing. Isn’t that what most of us do when a project stalls?
I loved the way the shrub bed looked. The Nandina, Spirea, and Crepe Myrtle grew into beautiful mature shrubs. The Green Giant Arborvitae trees that I planted along the property line to hide the neighbor’s RV cover were stunning.
Every time I looked at the backyard, I had a mixed emotional reaction. I was proud of my work so far, but the patio area was a neglected mess. Why couldn’t I complete this project?
In the summer of 2010 I rekindled my determination to move this project forward. I remember stopping at a plant nursery in Maryville, TN on my way home from an organizing session with a client. The pile of rocks and boulders drew me in.
I took home the perfect rectangular boulder to place at the end of my dry creek; the creek that was still floating in my imagination. I was one small step closer to making my dream a reality.
Visualize the project completed and write it down
In January 2011 I wrote out some goals for the year. I wrote “I will sit in my glider on my new patio and drink coffee while looking at my dry creek and flowers on June 30, 2011.”
I read my goal list daily.
In March 2011, I clicked on a Facebook ad for a free video tutorial about garden design. The tutorial was by Rachel Matthews.
Rachel talked about mistakes that gardeners make. She says that we should not focus on the shape of the planting areas. That was exactly what I had been focusing on.
Instead we should design around the shape of the open spaces like the lawn and the patio. She says, “Unless you have the shape right you will never have a great looking garden.”
That video was my defining moment.
I looked out at the area and instantly I could see the circular shape that would define the lawn. My heart was pounding because I could also finally see where to put the creek and the patio.
Take a close look at my before picture. Do you see where I stretched out a garden hose and some rope to define the shapes?
I set to work with a consuming focus to complete the project. I finished in August.
The creek turned out exactly as I had planned. When we have a hard rain it runs like a gushing mountain stream. I find it fascinating to watch.
I added a glider and bench a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been slowly adding some plants. I am so looking forward to next spring. I am especially grateful to Rachel Matthews for providing the video.
Would I have noticed Rachel’s offer if I had not written that goal down in January? I believe that writing the goal and reading it everyday kept the project at the front of my mind. I doubt that I would have clicked on an ad about garden design if the dry creek dilemma had not been bugging me on a daily basis. I am sure that if I had not written out that goal I would still have a mess in my backyard.
How about you? Do you have some stalled projects?
So why am I telling you all this? Because I’m pretty sure most of you have some unfinished projects. It’s time to dig them out and decide if they are still important to you.
If the answer is no, you should let them go. If you have a strong desire to complete a project, decide what you want, set a date for completion and write it down.
Read the goal every morning and every evening. This will keep it on your mind and you will find yourself taking small actions to move it forward. Are you missing a vital piece of information, an item or financing to complete the goal? Visualize the end result to the best of your ability and keep reading the goal. You may run head-on into exactly what you need.
This completes the organized gardening series. I hope you have enjoyed it. I would love to hear from you so please comment. If you are interested in gardening then I recommend Rachel’s blog.