Decisive Gardening: Tips to Empower You in the Garden

Honestly, I’m pathetic when it comes to making decisions about plants in the garden. I justify my hesitation – and it is hesitation, please don’t confuse this with mercy – on a deep-seated desire to believe in miracles. That somehow my plants will receive a generous dose of divine intervention and be fine by the morning. Kind of like taking paracetamol and resting for a while – when all you needed was the rest.


Fortunately I have a wife who’s a little more realistic than I am. She seems to know when a plant isn’t going to make it – the brown receding leaves appear to offer her some valuable clues – while I just ignore it hoping that time will heal all wounds. The only clue I seem to get is when she’s carting it by the root ball over to the compost heap – and even then I’m looking for ways to try and save it.

It’s tragic, isn’t it? A grown man frozen by indecision and emasculated by plants that don’t want to grow.

So, I thought I would come up with a quick Ready Reckoner that might empower me to be more decisive in the garden.

If it’s dead – rip it out

If it’s dead – it’s dead. Unless you have faith in your own resurrective powers this plant will never grow another leaf nor sport another bud. It’s kaput! Fini! Dead! The only reason you might want to keep it is because it hides another vista far uglier. Apart from that, remove it and plant something that will grow.

If it’s dying – fertilise and give it another chance

Okay, I will do this for only one season though. If it doesn’t improve after I’ve applied some TLC then it’s coming out – possibly! But it makes sense doesn’t it? If a plant isn’t growing well in a particular location then why persevere with it? There are possibly hundreds of other plants that would love to ‘get a guernsey’ in our gardens.

If it takes too much time – rip it out

This is a hard one, isn’t it? You know the type of plant that seems to snooker you every time you walk around your garden. It obviously suffers from A.D.D. whining that it needs something else done to it or it won’t perform to your expectations. Oh, I hate these type of plants. My decision from now on will be to rip it out rather than avoid that section of the garden. There are much nicer plants out there…

If it hasn’t flowered for 2 seasons or more – rip it out

Oh, yes. The non-flowering plant. Fine if it’s a foliage plant and you bought it just for the texture and colour of its leaves. But if it refuses to bloom regardless of the love and attention I lavish upon it, then it’s coming out.

If it didn’t grow the first time – don’t buy another one

My weakness, when visiting nurseries, is purchasing plants that fail time and time again in my garden. It’s as if I think that these new ones will finally achieve what none of it predecessors could. No matter what the hurdles were that sealed the fate of the last ones, these new ones will finally succeed. Realistically, they probably won’t!

If pests devour it – then find ways to protect it while it grows OR don’t grow it

And finally, the one decision that makes profit for chemical companies is finding ways to make your plants grow no matter what. It seldom occurs to me that possibly these plants weren’t supposed to grow in my climate or location. So rather than give up, I’d prefer to coax them to success with a little “whatever-it-takes”.

I feel empowered already. Suddenly my garden looks richer and healthier – apart from those brown conifers which I might decorate with tinsel (they’re a little off-colour at the moment, but they’ll come good – you’ll see!). is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Additionally, we participates in various other affiliate programs, and we sometimes get a commission through purchases made through our links.