I grew up in California, just north of San Francisco. We could grow just about anything in that climate: oranges, lemons, artichokes, fuchsias, camellias, bottlebrush, pelargoniums, and just about any fruit or veggie you could think of. They grew easily and happily. I could walk down to the railroad tracks and bring home buckets of blackberries everyday in July and August. By the time I was an adult, I considered myself a pretty decent gardener.
I moved to Reno and found out the joke was on me! Everything that I knew about plants, didn’t apply here. We have short seasons and late frosts. It has snowed historically in every month of the year. In fact, yesterday, June 12, 2017, we had a late snow fall of 6″, just west of here. And now, it’s supposed to be 90 degrees by Saturday! We also have mostly rocky ground; what soil that’s here is either thick clay, saline saturated, or sand. I’ve spent the last 28 years trying learn Nevada gardening. I don’t know that I’ll ever fully crack the code, but I’m still trying.
So what does KonMari have to do with gardening, you might ask? A lot, as it turns out.
You see, after I freed up my home of the stress and clutter, my true passions, values and sense of self, emerged. Being outside in nature was still high on my list, as was gardening, and keeping my yard environmentally friendly. I decided to see if I could apply what I learned from KonMari to my passions.
Here’s what I came up with:
- I created a vision for my yard. I had a vague idea of how I wanted to garden and what I hoped it could be. It wasn’t very defined though. I decided to think more about what brought me joy. I decided I wanted it to look similar to my favorite desert hiking spot. I wanted it to be animal friendly for both my dogs and the wildlife, with “safe areas” for the bunnies and quail to nest. I wanted to bring more pollinators to my garden and create little nesting areas for them. I wanted it to be fun. I also wanted it to be sort easy to care for, but still have things for me to do in it daily. It was a big list, but it’s also a work in progress.
- I let go of what didn’t spark joy in my yard and selected what things to keep. This is basic KonMari. I had thought I had gone through my garden sheds pretty well, but I still found things that weren’t useful, or I didn’t need or were part of a yard project I had lost interest in. Those, I thanked, considered what they taught me and let them go. I kept honing down all of the stuff, until I had just what I actually used: Basic tools, plant food, seasonal decorations, yard games, snowshoes, and bikes.
- I let my yard tell me how it wanted to be. Marie Kondo says that your home will tell you how to store things. I used that thinking in my garden. Sometimes I just walk out in the yard and look and listen. I look to see what’s happening with the plants. What is thriving, and what isn’t? Is there animal traffic: birds, bees, butterflies, rabbits? Does it need watering? Does the yard feel “happy?” It may seem silly, but gardening itself, is an intuitive pastime. The garden is living and like any living thing it will show signs of distress. Because I spend time looking more, I notice when things need attention. So the garden looks better an feel joyful.
- I decorated my yard thinking “pretty” and “fun. ” I’ve added a lot of “funky” art around the yard. It serves a couple of purposes: 1. Since so much of my yard is desert and native plants, painted wagon wheels, milk cans, and whimsical metal figures, add a pop of color in areas where there is none. 2. Upkeep is minimal, since part of the charm is their rustic-ness. This is really great in the middle of summer, when we can have temps of over 100 degrees for a week at a stretch. 3. They create a happy feeling in yard and make me smile when I see them. This year, I’m working on some designs for trail signs for my paths throughout the yard.
- I experiment and try new things. My current experiment is with keyhole gardening. A keyhole garden is a circular raised garden bed with a pie shaped wedge cut out of it and a basket for scrap in the center of the bad. There are a lot of variations on how make one, but the upside of them is that they are low maintenance, self feeding, self composting and great for areas with tough soil. Sometimes the experiments work well, such as the keyhole gardens. Others, such putting a lovely cedar fence up on the wind prone side of the yard, were not so great. We were trying to block our view of our neighbor’s not so pretty backyard and add some needed privacy. But we have regular sustained winds of 40 miles an hour throughout the year. My personal handywoman skills were not equal to the skills of nature. I had to take it down two years later because it was turning into kindling, fast! It was a pricey experiment, but I was able to reuse the wood for something else. I’m now doing a more natural approach to screening with native plants.
- I have given everything a home. I make sure any new plant I get, or yard art I create, or tool I buy, has a designated place: If I can’t give it a permanent home, then I don’t bring it home until I do. To be honest, this is still my greatest challenge with KonMari, both in my home and in the yard. It’s an old habit, to just drop things and not put them away. I have to force myself to make sure I do go back and put something away. But I’m happier when I do. It creates that calm that I love and I can find what I need, when I need it.
- I keep gratitude in my heart for my garden and the things that pass through it. Awhile back I joined the Nature Abounds “Watch The Wild” program. Basically you do regular observations of the flora and fauna in a place of your choosing. You take pictures, count the number of animals, list the types of plants, record the weather and so one. My backyard is pretty diverse, so that what I chose to observe. It has given me an insight into my yard and all of the comings and goings that occur daily. The more I learn, the more I am grateful for the opportunity to witness the daily life that occurs in the garden.
I think you’ll find that you can use the basics of KonMari in any part of your life, not just decluttering your home. I constantly find myself referring to the process daily. KonMari is a simple, basic formula that easily applies to any situation, place, hobby, relationship, class, or activity: Create a vision, select what to keep, thank and let go of the unnecessary things, give things a place to live, experiment to get it right and learn new things, instill it with gratitude.
I’ll post some of my projects in the coming weeks. Hopefully they will inspire your own journey, whether you garden or not, to have fun and tread joyfully through life.