Ilona has gardened actively for most of her life and has been a writer and webmaster online since 1998. Homeschooled all 10 of her children.
Adds Value to Your Home
Most people think of keeping a garden journal simply for their own benefit—to remember the names of plants, planning ideas, or the location of fall planted bulbs. If you've ever forgotten the name of your tree or shrub or where you planted those daffodil bulbs three years ago, you certainly know the benefit of a garden journal for yourself as the main garden/landscaper of your home.
Did you ever think of how useful such a record might be to the next owner, should you decide to sell your home? If you had a place to record it, wouldn't you like to look back over the history of your yard and find which year you planted your favorite ornamental tree, when the last frost was, whether a plant did really well in that drought this past summer, and which seeds you planted?
How to Create a Personal Garden Journal
There are many ways to keep a journal, and some of them can be combined to record your garden experience exactly the way you wish.
Keep a Hard Copy
You may choose to record a journal both for yourself and for a future home owner. If you want something to hand over to the next owner of your garden, a hard copy is best. Maybe a less personal version than the one you make for yourself. If you make a digital style of journal, it could created in a word processing program, as an e-book, or even a blog-journal if you have printable pages included.
Keep an Online Record
Ideally a combination can be made without too much trouble. The important thing is to include the plans, names of plants, landscape diagrams, and important plant information to facilitate future care of your garden (yes, even you will forget the names and places of bulbs you planted five or more years ago!).
*Digital Record: on a blog or on Google Drive
*Hardcopy using workbook, notebook journal, or loose leaf binders
*Purchase pro-designed book or create personal system
What Should I Record Inside My Journal?
Just a few of the page ideas that make the journal a helpful record for you or the next owner of your home and garden.
Use Spreadsheets, Graphs, Lined, and Unlined Paper
I know the following list of possible things to keep track of looks formidable. However, using spreadsheets, graph paper and both the unlined (for a sketch) and lined paper can greatly reduce the work into something as simple as a few checkmarks and X's or even sticker shapes standing in for trees and flowerbeds.
- When you buy a new plant take a photo or cut a picture from a plant catalogue or garden magazine, then paste into your journal with short info on its care. Note the location you have it in the yard .
- Write down names of the insects and plant diseases that have plagued your garden. Include list of remedies used and what was best remedy.
- Keep a page of lists for your favorite plant and garden supply stores and sources.
- Keep a list of fertilizers used and schedule of application.
- Record the best annual plants for your garden, and the color combinations you liked best. This really helps with container plantings for succeeding years.
- Draw vegetable plot plans. Record harvests. Keep track of costs.
- Record frost dates and precipitation levels for your year
- Track costs for seeds, soil amendments, chemicals, and tools.
- What is blooming and when.
- Wildlife observations such as bird sightings or animal damage to your plantings. Insects infestations, or observation of beneficial insects.
"Almost Like Having a Garden Coach!"
Use 'A Garden Journal Workbook' as a workbook for plant logs, garden lists, and checklists for organizing and maintaining a yard.
This is a wonderful way to start out journaling. No staring at a blank page and wondering what to do.
You will find out what information is most important to you and it will be pre-organized for you. What could be easier than that?
It is almost like having an expert coach guide you to collect the most useful facts about your personal garden.
All the Important Things You May Want to Remember
- Yearly vegetable plantings and seeds.
- Perennial plants and their locations, bloom times, special requirements, feeding schedule, related garden chores.
- Annual flowers, color combinations tried, container plantings, store purchased from, or plant catalogs used.
Among the many notes you may want to record are those in the following list.
- Flowering bulbs and their location.
- Garden diagrams and plans.
- Lists of seeds wanted
- Lists of garden supplies needed
- Names of trees, shrubs, etc. on the property
- Bird information, if desired
- Insect information, notes on beneficial insects, steps taken against problem insects.
- Keep receipts for plant guarantees
What Didn't Work?
Was the color combination not quite what you hoped? Did insects attack? Did the tomatoes get blight or the shrub develop wilt? Write down notes on what went wrong and why.
Make It Personalized
Garden journals are a great way to keep track of your plans, garden plant names, costs, and just about any information that is important to your gardening experience.
I have a fancy garden journal or two that I never used because they seemed too good to write in! I hope you won't make that mistake. If you have a wonderful journal with leather cover or pretty pages- go ahead and use it for your own memories and drawings.
I always used simple notebooks, and now that Zazzle has custom look and printed ones you can have the best of both! Simple spiral notebooks now can be ordered with custom covers to make your garden journal special. Use any of the many designs from talented artists or even create your very own.
The important thing to remember is to actually use the tool, which is how to think of a true garden journal.
POD's like Zazzle (the best known) have plenty of designs for 3-ring binders. They are an alternative way to compose your own system.
Your design can be found not only in binders, but in custom notebooks and other handy organizational products like containers (collecting seeds, this year?).
How to Keep an Artistic Naturalists Notebook
"A Gardener's Notebook: Life With My Garden" is the kind of book you never tire of looking at. It inspires and gives great how-to, which is sometimes just what we need to keep our creative juices flowing. If you don't know where to start, or you just love beautiful sketches of nature, do yourself or a friend a favor and get this book, one for yourself and one to give away.
It makes a great gift for everyone who loves nature.
Consider the fact that you may not want to part with this book, should you sell your home. On the other hand, who would most appreciate this handbook to your home's landscape?
Cutest, Easiest, Garden Journal Ever
Look how simple and easy it is to make an heirloom garden journal! Combine scrapbook techniques with a journal and have a place to keep garden pictures and info all together in a fun way.
It is a different way to put together what might have seemed a daunting task, making it easy and fun.
It's all inside this entertaining journaling video, below.
Supplies: Paper, Pictures, Templates
Once you decide the format you want to use, digital or hard copy, gather photos and illustrations to paste into the pages.
Make it easy to record data on plants and plans by having the graph paper or templates ready. Use pictures cut out from magazines for your hard copy notebook, especially if you feel you don't have time to paint or draw. Collage can be used to create the pages, as well as hand written or painted illustration.
Buy or Download Template Pages
Templates for lists or other information will save time. These are usually included in commercial garden journal books, but if you buy a binder you may want to use these forms.
- How a Homeowner Can Use a Garden Journal
How a homeowner uses a garden journal to gain advantage in a tough housing market
- Cutest Easiest Garden Journal
The link for the PDF download to print the Journal that is in the video, here.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Nicolette on August 23, 2016:
Anthony Altorenna from Connecticut on May 01, 2012:
Nicely done! I keep my garden notes in a loose-leaf binder, and enjoy looking back at the changes and slow evolution in my gardens over the years.
Chazz from New York on April 02, 2012:
I've been keeping records and garden note on the computer - efficient but not nearly as charming as a bound journal. I have several and you've given me the push I needed to actually start using them. Thanks you. Blessed and featured on my "Wing-ing it on Squidoo" lens.
kimbesa from USA on April 01, 2012:
Wanda Fitzgerald from Central Florida on March 16, 2012:
I have a garden journal and it's stuffed full of ideas I will do ..... one day