Putter with Purpose: Tips for Gardening Motivation

Photo by Holly Stickley

Feeling overwhelmed with spring garden chores?


Does it all seem so daunting? 

I know, everywhere you look there’s something to do — so you do nothing!

Here’s what I do — putter with purpose — not to be confused with golfing.

Don’t think you have to do everything at once — cut it up into bite-sized pieces — but just start puttering! When I say to myself, I’m going to go outside and start puttering around, for some weird reason it seems fun and easy. Try and complete an area before moving on to the next — it’ll give you a feeling of accomplishment — after, you can sit back and admire the beauty.

Here are 8 puttering tasks you can do right now:

1. Cut back and clean-up ornamental grasses and perennial foliage — best to do this before new growth appears. 

2. Prune flowering shrubs that flower on new wood (what will grow this season). Don’t forget the 3D’s — remove all dead, diseased, and damaged wood, and cut out all crossing branches — open up the middle for good air circulation, and for the health of the plant. 

3. If you have old leggy woody shrubs like rhododendrons, and don’t mind sacrificing a few blooms, now’s a good time to prune, shape, and open up. 

4. Weed, weed, weed. My motto — “See a weed, pick a weed.” Believe it or not, weeding can be relaxing. During a spring evening, I’ve been known to weed while listening to music, and having a glass of wine!

5. Feed, feed, feed — feed your soil, feed your plants. The best once-a-year slow release fertilizer is compost. Every spring and fall, I apply a 2 inch layer of compost to my planting beds. Over the season, it provides all the fertilizer that almost every plant needs to look and perform at its best — and it improves the structure of your soil.

Tip — if you have grass that sits alongside your planting bed, mow and edge first before laying down your compost. 

6. Take care of your lawn — mow, aerate, edge, & fertilize. I like to thatch too, but I usually do this every few years. Lawn fertilizer in the spring helps get your grass off to a great start. Use a slow-release or organic fertilizer; don’t try to feed your lawn for a quick green-up — this doesn’t usually work and can harm your grass.

7. Clean your pots. I use a splash of bleach in a bucket of water and a scrub brush — you don’t want to be passing diseases onto your new beautiful potted creations!

8. Bait for slugs. Right now I am using up my organic Sluggo, and excited to try non-toxic Diatomaceous Earth. I hear it’s great for earwigs, slugs, and other soft-bodied garden pests, as well as flees and ticks on your pets — it looks amazing! Check it out at and learn how to use Diatomaceous Earth for pest control at

Happy Spring — start puttering with purpose, and enjoy your garden!

Love, Holly ~ Your Queen Bee at The White Pear