What a year 2020 was. During time working from home, home schooling and dealing with COVID-19, many people turned to gardening as a way to keep active and relieve stress.

At the beginning of a new year, we often come up with resolutions — goals we will concentrate on in the coming year. For new gardeners and old hands alike, our gardens and landscapes should be a part of that process.

So, here are a few gardening resolutions to get you started:

1. I will seek out and utilize only gardening information that is appropriate for Louisiana.

Much of the gardening information on the internet is not suitable for our area. This makes it easy to get confused about what plants will grow well here and the timing of gardening activities. Always look for gardening information focused on the unique climate of the Gulf Coastal area in hardiness zones 8 and 9.

For accurate information on a wide variety of garden topics that is specifically prepared for Louisiana gardeners, check out the LSU AgCenter website at www.lsuagcenter.com. Click on “Lawn & Garden” for information on vegetables, flowers, trees, shrubs, pests and more.

Want to ask local experts a specific question about gardening, such as identifying insect or disease problems, plant recommendations or proper plant care? You can email your parish LSU AgCenter extension horticulturist. There is one assigned to every parish. To find out who your extension horticulturist is and how to reach them, do an internet search using — LSU AgCenter Ask a Question.

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2. I will not create a landscape that demands more time than I have to give it.

It’s important to make sure your landscape does not become a burden. That takes all the fun out of gardening. In particular, regulate the number of flowerbeds and the size of your vegetable garden, as these areas have higher maintenance requirements.

3. I will not let weeds get out of control before I make effective efforts to control them.

This is a worthy resolution that most of us would benefit from making. Dealing with weeds is an unavoidable part of landscape maintenance. Yards where weeds are regularly dealt with will tend to have less severe weed problems than yards where weeds are regularly allowed to get out of hand before control efforts are made.

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4. I will effectively use mulches in flowerbeds, vegetable gardens around shrubs and other appropriate areas.

Most of us use organic mulches, such as pine straw, leaves, ground bark and processed wood products. Mulches are our best first line of defense in controlling weeds in beds. They also conserve soil moisture and so reducing watering, look attractive, prevent soil compaction and moderate soil temperatures. There are few things we do as gardeners that are more beneficial than mulching.

5. I will pick more garden flowers.

Most of us are loathe to remove any of the color from our landscapes by cutting flowers. But think of the brief moments you actually get to appreciate those flowers outside.

Cut a few flowers here and there, fill a vase and never miss the flowers in the landscape. But you will enjoy seeing the flowers up close every time you walk by the vase indoors.

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6. I will visit at least one of the outstanding public gardens in New Orleans and the surrounding area.

It’s easy to maintain social distancing in these large gardens, and it’s a great way to get out of the house. Besides the pleasure of appreciating the beauty, there are always lessons to learn about design and plant materials if you look for them.

Right away the New Orleans Botanical Garden and Longue Vue House and Gardens come to mind. Near the Botanical Garden in City Park is the Bestoff Sculpture Garden.

Also, many plantations, such as Homas House, Laura Plantation and Rosedown Plantation, have grounds illustrating classical antebellum landscaping.

7. I will grow something I can eat this year.

Gardening did not start off with beautiful ornamental plants. The first gardens were utilitarian and provided food and medicines. There is still a special satisfaction that comes from producing food for your family from the garden.

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8. I will take better care of my garden tools.

I must admit, I’m truly the worst at that. Good quality garden tools should last for many years. There are three important points: put your tools up when you finish using them, keep them sharpened and occasionally apply a coat of oil.

9. I will try out a few new plants in my gardens.

Trying new plants is part of the fun of gardening. Although you should expect some failures, this is how we find new and wonderful plants.

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10. I will not look at how much it actually costs to grow my own Creole tomatoes.

When you add up materials such as organic matter, tools, fertilizer and pesticides, along with time preparing beds, maintaining the garden and harvesting — well, just don’t do it.

11. I will recycle yard waste in a compost pile.

Composting is not complicated and may involve nothing more than pilling up grass clippings, leaves and other landscape waste in an out-of-the-way area and allowing it to naturally decay. Homemade compost is the best thing we can add to the soil during bed preparation.

12. I will correct some of the landscape problems I have been living with for years.

For instance, you may remove shrubs that are too large and that so require constant pruning and replace them with something smaller-growing. You know the kind of problems I’m talking about — deal with them.

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13. I will show a child the wonders of gardening.

How many of you remember a grandparent or parent, relative or family friend showing you how to garden when you were young? How much do you treasure that memory? Pass it on.

14. I will spend more time sitting and enjoying my garden.

Sometimes, I simply meander through my landscape touching leaves and smelling flowers, and appreciate what I have created. I will relax. My garden does not always have to look like the cover of a magazine.