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North Hills Monthly

Garden and Home Journals Keep Ideas, Memories Organized

Dec 30, 2014 12:09PM ● By Denise Schreiber
“To me, reading through old letters and journals is like treasure hunting. Somewhere in those faded, handwritten lines there is a story that has been packed away in a dusty old box for years.”
— Sara Sheridan

Growing up, many of us kept a diary. You know the kind where we wrote our deepest secrets, and sealed it with a lock to keep out nosy siblings and parents. As we grew up, many of us gave up writing in those treasured books, but journals can also be for adults, especially if you like to keep track of your progress in the house or garden.

Starting a house journal can help you keep those little details in mind that you’ll want to know five years down the road. You can purchase a blank journal, use a three-ring binder, or set up a journal online. A lot of people also use Pinterest to keep track of future projects that they’d like to do.

You can categorize your house journal according to rooms, remodeling details, or the inside and outside of the house. For example, when you’re painting your house, write down the manufacturer of the paint, the color and how much you used, especially if it is a custom color. This way, if you need some touch-up paint down the road, you can easily find that information.

When did you last replace the faucet in the kitchen? When did you put in the new furnace? What is the model number? If you use a binder, you can also file warranty papers; something that most people can’t find when they need them. Always write down dates when things are done for future reference—time goes by faster than we think, and we can surprise ourselves with how much time has passed since a project was completed.

Somewhere in this type of journal, you should also add the names and contact information of handymen that have worked for you. They may have specialty areas such plumbing, electricity or landscaping, so make a note of that, too. Future ideas should also have a section, especially if you’re planning to add a deck, put in a new sidewalk or a garage door. And how about a wish list for your future pond or waterfall or potting shed? This way, you’ll have the information available when it comes time to do any remodeling, and you can jog your memory about the ideas you liked and contractors to hire. Take some photographs of the house, too, and place them in your book or online. In just a few years, you’ll be able to see notable changes that are a result of your hard work.

You can keep just a garden journal, too, if you aren’t interested in a whole house journal. Photos are especially important, since you’ll want to be able to track the growth of the landscape as well as look at changes you may want to make in the next season. Another more sentimental reason to keep a journal is to take a picture of your family in the garden. I have some wonderful pictures of me and my mom in the garden under an arbor of hyacinth bean, and there is the one of mom and three of her grandchildren with a huge tomato that was as large as their heads. There is one of me as a true tree hugger, embracing a gorgeous lacebark pine. Photos like this are priceless, and add to the memories we have of our gardens.

In your garden journal, you can keep a list of the seeds you planted this year, how well they did, including fruit and vegetable production, and how many plants were planted. If you have an insect problem, you can note when it occurred, so the following year you can be prepared for the onslaught.

You can even enter some random thoughts about your garden, such as the types of butterflies that visited, the songbirds that you fought with for your berries or just how much you enjoy sitting in the garden in the evening. A journal is all about you—a record that you can look back on year after year for advice or for memories. So feel free to write down your ‘secrets’—even if you don’t have to lock them up anymore.