The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up the Garden

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The art of organizing the garden and potting shed!

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By now, many of you have heard of Marie Kondo's book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing can be put to good use in the garden as well.

It doesn't mean planting in straight rows or keeping the hedges rigidly trimmed. Most of us have a mental image of the landscape we'd like to have.

Look around your yard and make note of what speaks to your heart. If there are areas that don't "spark joy" (as Kondo puts it) think about changing them for something that does.

What do you wish to prioritize?

  1. Replace that shrub that never blooms with something you've always wanted.
  2. Put up a trellis to plant with some annual vines that can block an ugly view.
  3. Use plants, fencing, or stone walls to create a boundary or define an outdoor room.
  4. Thin out and cut back overgrown plants and get rid of those that are past their prime.
  5. Using a limited color palette for plants and garden furnishings will calm the look of your space.
  6. Do you really need all those garden decorations? Give some to friends.
  7. Don't be too tidy! Leave some messy areas for wildlife.
  8. Get rid of clutter and trash and keep what you love!

Image: Flower garden with green potting shed. Credit: Mikael Broms/Shutterstock.

Getting Organized

The garden shed can really benefit from some creative organization. If you have a shed, you know what I mean. During the gardening season we are too busy to put things back where they belong and generally they get piled on any flat surface near the door. By fall, it is hard to get inside! I usually take a warm fall day to drag everything out, organize the piles, and put it all back inside where I can find it again next spring.


  • Get all your gardening equipment in one place, sort it out to see what you need more of and what you can let go.
  • Organize by category. Pots, trays, labels, twist ties and velcro, stakes, gloves, clippers, twine, reemay, amendments, tools and trowels, etc.
  • Dispose of damaged items and find new homes for things you don't need and will never use.
  • Take stock of what you already own and you won't be tempted to buy more of the same.
  • Make a list of what you really need to buy or want to replace.


Seeds! Need I say more? Before you make your seed order, ferret out the packages that are hiding around the house and get them all together.

  • Gather up the multiples you'll never use and ones you don't want to grow again and bring them to a seed swap.
  • Ditch those old packets that are out of date.
  • Take some time to sort by starting date and you'll be ahead of the game this spring.

(Need to test your seeds? See my post on "How Long Do Seeds Last?"


Garden books and magazines have a way of multiplying. I don't know about you but I have run out of wall space for more bookshelves.

  • Spend a few winter evenings going through the magazines; rip out the articles you want to keep and file them for future reference.
  • Weed out the books you don't look at any more and donate them to your garden club, seed swap, or library book sale. 

Achieve the gardens of your dreams

When sorting through the stuff, think about usefulness. Does this have a place in my dream garden? Does it spark joy in my life? Hopefully, after a bit of de-cluttering and reorganizing, you will be left with a more orderly life and a garden you will love to spend time in.

Related Content

How to Design Your Dream Garden

How to Care for and Sharpen Garden Tools

Organizing and Cleaning a Toolbox


About The Author

Robin Sweetser

Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. Read More from Robin Sweetser

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