Southern Gardening – Different types of gardeners, goals

By Gary R. Bachman MSU Horticulturist Coastal Research & Extension Center

The summer months certainly take a toll on most gardeners. The heat and humidity can make even the most dedicated gardener decide to stay inside for the duration. As I considered going out in the 100-degree-plus heat index the other day, I was reminded of the difference between a gardener and a ³yardener.²

I first learned about the concept of a ³yardener² a few years ago at a conference. I was listening to well-known gardening author and entertaining horticulturist Allan Armitage talk about gardening as a four-letter word. He said ³yardeners² make up about 80 percent of the gardening public — they are the eager springtime buyers who buy a few plants, plant a few seeds, then disappear inside until they are forced to mow, weed, or deal with the landscape.

Allan divided gardeners into four categories:

Category 1: Master Gardeners

Master gardeners are highly motivated about their gardens and other gardening activities. These folks attend organized classes, earn their Master Gardener status, and provide volunteer service to beautify their communities. Master Gardeners also assist the Mississippi State University Extension Service by helping in their counties and making presentations to interested groups.

Category 2: Enthusiastic Gardeners

As the name suggests, these gardeners are excited to have a beautiful garden and landscape. They are confident in their gardening abilities. Enthusiastic gardeners find the garden relaxing because they are successful gardeners and do not worry about failures.

Category 3: Anxious Gardeners

These gardeners enjoy their garden but are unsure of what to do. They find the garden to be a stressful environment and worry about every planting decision. Their enjoyment of the garden is tempered by the anxiety that they haven¹t followed planting and growing directions exactly.

Category 4: Just-Because-You-Have-To Gardeners

This group looks at the garden and sees work. These people are not gardeners, but ³yardeners.² The lawn has to be cut, the garden beds have to be weeded, and flowers have to be planted. There is no joy in these gardens, just long labor in the hot sun.

So under which category do you fall? Which category do you want to be in?

Here are some tips:

€ Enjoy your garden and the process, and understand that there is work involved. Consider this work to be sweat equity.

€ Do not worry about following directions perfectly. There are many different paths to follow when planting the garden, and they all end up at the same place.

€ Do not get discouraged if a planting fails. It happens. Look at this situation as an opportunity to plant something new.

€ Try new plants and designs.

€ Most importantly, relax ­ it¹s gardening. It is not rocket science.

So get out into the garden and landscape this summer, sweat a little (or a lot, in my case), have fun and enjoy your garden and landscape.


[EDITOR¹S NOTE: Dr. Gary Bachman is an associate Extension research professor of horticulture at the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. Locate Southern Gardening columns and television and radio programs on the Internet at]