So you’ve decide to take on the monstrosity that is your yard. With a belt bearing pounds worth of pruners, trimmers, trowels and jack knives you feel able and ready to conquer the job ahead…or do you? After several minutes of trying to determine which tool would suffice to take out that big overgrown thing by the door,  your mother-in-law pulls up, alights from her car and mutters under her breath as she enters the house,”it would be MY son-in-law who is aiming to rip out that $1000 dollar weeping Japanese Maple…” thus casting an aching doubt on your intended mission.

weeping japanese mapleBut fear not, this is where discretion and preference find no bounds and everything that the world has been telling you is wrong, isn’t. This is the place where you embrace the plan for your home and your surroundings on your terms. If that big, gorgeous tree that everyone tells you is a sight to behold is causing some serious foundation problems–then you might want to consider ripping it out. And it is OK. You will not be struck by lightening.

When analyzing your property, instead of looking at the plants and features as “specimens” and unalterable, decide objectively what purpose do they serve. Don’t be the guy or gal who refuses to get rid of those uber-expensive pair of jeans (even though they are outdated and will never in your lifetime fit again) because the are “worth” so much. If they are no longer working for you then it is time to say goodbye.

In order to make the most efficient use of your time, energy and money you need to look at everything through the paradigm of value. Ask yourself, Does it serve a purpose (Utilitarian)? Think ugly retaining wall that is keeping your neighbor’s yard from collapsing upon your driveway. Or Does it bring you joy (Pleasurable)? Remember that hairy overgrown shrub by the back door that once a year brings you a week of sheer delight. Everything outside of those two functions, generally speaking, could be considered extraneous, superfluous, unnecessary. In modern jargon: CLUTTER.

Your first step is to look at time as your life, not just as minutes and seconds ticking away. Do you want to spend your life battling against a task list that brings you little joy or satisfaction, or would you rather invest your life in something that brings value to you, not only as a home owner, but as a person.

Start your year off right. Take inventory in each zone. Write down those things that bring you joy, those things that are of service and note those items that serve neither purpose. Don’t wander all over the yard. Start in Zone1, be thorough. Move on to the next Zone only after you have finished with the previous Zone. Take the time to research any plants or structures in question–some may be of value with a change of location or a different type of maintenance. Put the chainsaw away and think. You will have a plan.

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