Monday, March 23, 2009

A Coach in the Garden: A Garden Coach

I have finally found my niche and have made a decision. I've decided to become a Garden Coach. What exactly is a garden coach? It is not really difficult to define, but it is difficult for folks to understand. I am providing you with a link to a Garden Coaching blog by Susan Harris. Susan also had an article in this month's issue of Organic Gardening that describes more about what garden coaches do. But I am going to relay a short story to you (with permission of course) about garden coaches. I had the opportunity to visit with Skeeter, her husband the Saint, and Skeeter's parents recently. We met at a local German restaurant and shared some chit chat over schnitzel. When I told them all I was going to come out as a 'Garden Coach', Skeeter asked, "Now what is a garden coach?". Her mother, so charmingly looked across the table at Skeeter and said, "Someone who teaches you to garden, duh." I simply loved it! I sure wish she would join me at my presentation tomorrow night. I am scheduled to talk to about 75 local folks at the Master Gardener Mini Course. It is at this presentation I will be announcing my new vocation. Not new really, but now professional. I am sure I will get many questions so Skeeter's mother's response was right on!

I equate my chosen avocation to that of a house inspector-but I'll take it a bit further. You know how you wish to buy a new house and the realtor advises you get a home inspection? In fact, oftentimes now a days, home sales are
contingent on the results of the home inspection. You hire some guy with a truck and a ladder, maybe a safety suit and a tape measure, and you pay him (usually a him) an exorbitant amount of money to come to your house where he spends about two hours inspecting your home, its exterior and interior elements. He flushes toilets, checks the heating and cooling system and so on. Then he heads back to his house and types up a report (if you are lucky he types it!), puts it in an envelope and sends it to you-the prospective home buyer. You read it and then try to decipher it's contents.

"Okay, my stove was manufactured in 1978 by Whirlpool and is a model 567, check. My heating temperature is right on, check. My exterior door casing is rotted, check-oops-gotta get that fixed."

You understand right? I do, I've paid for several home inspections and find the information most helpful; especially since the whole house is new to me. Most of the time it is money well spent. Well I will be running my garden coach business in a similar manner.

There will of course be a fee for my services, most likely a package deal just like home inspectors provide. I will come to your home and 'inspect' everything close up. I will not do this alone though, I will expect clients to walk with me and I will guide, advise, and evaluate as I walk through your garden. This initial session will last approximately 1.5-2 hours. All the while I'll be taking notes, pictures and most likely measurements. See the similarity to a home inspector here? I will then convene back to my home and type up my findings in an easy to read and understand report format. I will also include recommendations based on the client's needs, desires, and realistic capabilities. How will I determine these needs, desires, and capabilities?

It is pretty easy when doing any type of inspection or on site visit to determine quite quickly what type of homeowner the person is like. Is the homeowner diligent with cutting and trimming their lawn? Or is long, weedy and spotty at best? Are there existing plants? And if so, what condition are they in? Well trimmed, or yellowed and dying? I can determine fairly quickly the capabilities with an on site visit, but I also have to match that bit of the puzzle up with the homeowners desires. Just because they might not be the best gardeners, is there a real desire there? Perhaps the homeowner is new to the home and the garden is left over from the previous homeowner? Maybe even the homeowner is handicapped and will need methods of maintaining the garden that he or she can handle? These questions and more will be answered when a client contracts me for services and I send him or her an in depth survey to fill out. The survey will need to be completed prior to any on site visit so as to aid me in understanding the client. What happens next?

Once the survey is completed, the on site visit is completed, the report is typed up and finalized, I will, at the client's request, deliver the report to the client in their garden-resulting in another visit to the garden. Hey, we all know gardens change very rapidly-I can't tell you how much changes in my garden from the morning to the night-tons! So I can get another eyes on look at the client's garden and see if some of the measures we talked about in the initial consultation have made a difference. Once the report is delivered, I will be available for follow up sessions at a later date.

I expect I will be most busy during the spring and fall seasons, but gardening here in Tennessee can go on all year long. Winter or summer sessions for garden coach services are not out of the question.

I have taken the necessary steps to be approved to operate my business from home, I have the website, email, business license and business cards. I am also registered on a worldwide directory of garden coaches and am ready for business. My shingle is hung-finally!

I hope that in some small way, I can help spread my love of gardening around my community so that everyone can enjoy what nature has to offer. Garden coaching is a start for me, albeit a small start.

Contact information for me as a professional garden coach is pretty easy. Obviously you can contact me here. In fact, the blog and my business website will be linked. With over 600 posts with lots of good information and helpful to do lists for local folks, I hope everyone will use this blog for gardening information they can easily implement on their own. It is what it is here for-in addition to helping me to learn more about gardening, and of course enabling gardeners to connect with one another.

I have also set up my profile on Susan Harris' premiere garden coaching website. You can find me here. In case you forget how to get there, just pull up the Garden Coach Directory, search by state, pull up Tennessee, and there I am!

Additionally, I do have a professional email address: My business website is: Do check it out-now and each time you feel like it! I made it quite easy to remember and of course, you can see my motto there....

in the garden....

One more note, my co-posters and close friends and family were informed of my plan a few months ago. In case you are worried, this blog will not change. We have been posting for a very long time and I think readers have come to expect certain things from it, we will not waver from our commitment to this blog. Thanks to my co-posters encouragement and help on here, we will still post daily. Though I expect I will become more busy than I have been so we'll see how that affects my blogging. I will also be adding a link to the sidebar for the convenience of any readers who wish to access me professionally when they find they need garden coaching services.

I also must say a big hearty thank you to Helen Yoest of Gardening with Confidence. Without her encouragement and a big nudge for me to 'hang out my shingle', I might not have taken this huge step. I am grateful to her and to anyone who has ever read this blog and encouraged me in some small way in my gardening endeavors that means you!


  1. That all sounds like a handful. One difference between the house inspector and the garden coach though is the garden coach has a much more pleasant job! Being in the heating business, we ALWAYS cringe about a home owner calling on their heating system! I would NEVER do that if someone wanted beautiful flowers and trees.

  2. Yipee!! I am so excited for you! Wish I lived close by--I would love to go to one of your lectures! have certainly helped me out a time or two. You will be wonderful at this! BTW--we have an answer on the grass/tree problem from A&M. I'll send you an email tonight and tell you what they said.
    Again, congrats! I am really happy for you!!

  3. Congrats Tina, I hope you have many gardens to coach. :-D I will check out your web page and explore a little. Garden coaching is a new emerging field. Sounds perfect. Best of luck to you in this endevour.

  4. Congratulations, Tina, and good luck with your new endeavor

  5. Tina- Wow! That is so exciting! I think garden coach will be the perfect career for you. It is obvious to me that you love the garden and encourage quite well. (I have been the recipient of that:) Your yard is beautiful and doing what you love is very important. Congrats and best wishes.

  6. Hi Tina,
    This is a great thing for you. It is a growing need in communities especially for folks who need some help but not a full scale landscape (pricey) design. I found this post very inspiring as I have been considering doing this very thing for a couple of years. So many people in Florida need so much help. Sometimes just to get started. Have been a little shy about plunging forward. So glad for you... you will be great at this!
    Meems @ Hoe and Shovel

  7. Good luck with you new business. Wishing you much success.

  8. What a great idea - I hope it is a huge success for you

  9. Tina,

    I'm sure you will do a great job at it! You have a passion for gardening that I know will come through for your clients. Good luck in your new career!

  10. Dear Tina...Yeah! Hooray! Yippee! I am so very excited for you! You will bring knowledge, commitment, experience, passion and enthusiasm to any coaching experience you provide! Your clients will be fortunate to have you in their gardens! Hugs to you, Gail

  11. Yay, Tina, good for you! You shared some of this with me offline after I posted my "Today I Leapt" entry, and I know you are ready to rumble! I love the analogy to a home inspector--and, yes, carrying a tape measure just makes you more official! I'm thinking of adding this service as well--I did it once and really enjoyed it. And, frankly, I'm a bit too, erm, rotund, to do actual hands-on gardening for others any more. Good luck with the talk and let us know how it goes!! (I also like the flat rate idea, instead of an hourly fee.)

  12. P.S. Skeeter's mom sounds like a hoot! :)

  13. Congratulations, Tina! This job sounds like the perfect fit for you! You are so knowledgeable about gardening, and I've learned so much from your blog that I'm sure you will be a success. If it weren't for the distance and the fact I'm trying to be very frugal these days, I would hire you in a second:)...I'm still trying to figure out what to do in front of my house.

    Best of luck in this new adventure!

  14. Tina --I am so proud of you and I know you will excel in this chosen career. You are my EXPERT! Thanks for all the help and especially for this blog --it has helped me tremendously. Ciao!

  15. Congratulations on this very big and wonderful step. I know you will do wonderful!!

  16. Congrats Tina I think this is fantastic! Right up your alley and you'll be wonderful at it. I have a saying I put on my business cards and on my antique website and I think it will fit you too. When you find work you love you no longer have to work for a living. Isn't that just the neatest saying? Well enjoy and the best of luck to you!

  17. Tina, I'm thrilled for you...this is something you'll be terrific at! I hope you get lots of clients and I only wished VA was closer to TN!!!!! You are always welcome to visit me and I'll take any tips you can offer!! I looked at the site and it is set up so well, with so much great info about you
    Congrats, Tina!!

  18. How exciting, I'm sure you will do great. You have so much knowledge that's for sure! Good luck with your new adventure!
    By the way how cool that you were an air traffic controller, I wondered what you did in the army.

  19. I'm so excited for you, Tina! What a wonderful step to be taking! I wish you were around these parts. As just yesterday I said to my husband, "Okay, I need someone to come in here and do an overall plan for the outdoors. So we can implement it one step at a time." I am tired of cramming a plant here and there and everything looking hodge-podge. I've often thought I should be a coach for those challenged to decorate their homes with what they already own!

  20. Wow that is great! I am so happy for you! I am sure you will love your new career and do a wonderful business!!!

  21. How exciting! it sounds like you will be having fun doing this! I was actually thinking about it my self! I had stumbled across a site a while back about garden coaching. What a great idea!

    Good luck. you will be great!

  22. Good morning all! Everyone's support is very important to me and I SO appreciate it all! If I could, I'd visit each of you as I love seeing gardens.

    Dawn, I agree!

    Linda, I'll be looking forward to that email. I always enjoy helping others so I was happy to help in any little way.

    Donna, Thanks! Slow starting but hey, I've lots of time and now the time is right.

    Heather, I hope I can encourage many folks and am glad I've helped you a bit. Gardening is SO important, as is the desire. Once the desire is there, all else falls into place. You'll be great on those weeds this summer! Which reminds me....of my weeds!:)

    Meems, Go for it! Hang out your shingle! You guys garden year round and there is surely a market for knowledgeable gardeners everywhere. Your garden is so awesome I'd hire you myself!

    Marnie, Thanks so much!!

    PG, Thanks so much!

    Dave, That is surely one good thing I have going for me. My passion for gardening. I love to share it too so I'm hoping for great success! Thanks for your encouragement.

    Gail, Can I hire you to be on my cheer squad?:) Thanks so much and many hugs back to you!

    Monica, You crack me up-truly! I know you are going to be successful in your endeavors and still my hat's off to you for your leap of faith. You are truly a brave woman!

    Rose, Yes! Finally a very good fit. Work on my own schedule the way I wish. It should be fun.

    Anonymous, Thanks! I need to drop you off some business cards along with some gooseberries. I am so glad you and others get good stuff from this blog. We've all worked very hard on it.

    Jillybean, Thanks! I hope you are doing well and good to hear from you!

    RainGardener, This is my intent-no more work. Hey, I'm in the garden always or on the computer-so I've put the two together-fun! Now antiquing would be most fun too!

    Jan, Yes, sometimes folks wonder about the blogger-about me-no more as it is all on my website. Even a picture which was tough for me. A neighbor took that on last year's garden tour and I liked it simply because I am in the garden, not fond of my image but for now I guess I'll keep it. If I ever get to Virginia I'll look you up. Unfortunately with hubby retiring in a few years, I doubt we'll be heading that way but you never know.

    Catherine, Being an air traffic controller was such an awesome job. I so loved it. I miss it all the time too. Good thing we live close to the aircraft here. I can reflect. Everyone said I should stick with that as a civilian, no. No shift work for me. Time to garden and for a change. I did love it. Oftentimes I go by ATCPS, and folks wonder why-now you know. A Big story behind it but I won't bore you here. And thanks very much for your encouragement.

    Brenda, I think there is truly a market for garden coaches and for home decorators. You would be great! Love your garden and home.

    Flwrgirl, Thanks so much! Go for it! You are a great gardener and such an active person with gardening-you'd be super.

    Cindee, Thanks so much!

  23. Since I checked out you couching site before coming here I thought I had'nt moved. LOL A very big congrats and good luck!!

    To all my nature loving online friends, here in Maine an outfit has several live webcams set up over nests of eagles, osprey, loons, finches and peregrine falcons. The falcon has just laid her first egg for this season. They usually lay 3 - 4 eggs with them laid at around 48 hour intervals so there should be more coming soon. If you go to you can get the links for all the webcams. They are great to see.

  24. I forgot but also wanted to say, the falcons rotate their eggs every 1/2 to 1 hour so the yolk does not stick to one side so you can see that happen. Now how do they know to do that? Nature is just so amazing and magnifence.

  25. this sounds exactly a perfect fit for you. i hope it will really take off. you will have to keep us informed at how it is progressing.

  26. Tina, congratulations! And all the very best. I'm so excited to read all the details in your post. I hope you go/grow from strength to strength! Will check out your website now.

  27. How wonderful, Tina. I sure wish you lived closer - I'd hire you in a minute. Best of luck with the new venture. Beginning a garden can be so daunting -- you expect to make mistakes, but always better to minimize them.

  28. Congratulations Tina on making that very exciting decision and proceeding forward. I wish you nothing but the best. I hope you'll keep us informed how it's going? I'm sure many gardeners would like to make a similar career choice but are not brave enough.

  29. Hi Jean --that is so cool that they instinctively know to rotate there eggs -very interesting. Hope you are seeing more signs of spring up your way:) It's defintely mowing season down here --but I won't complain --thinking about letting Boy 1 TRY mowing this year. I have my way and then I'm sure he'll have his way, rofl. Tina --if you need me to pick up the gooseberries let me know --hubby is over that way alot. I know you are super busy this time of year. Thanks!

  30. Hi Tina! Thank you for stopping by, and how fun this is - Garden Coach! I need a good coaching on a couple of things. I grew up in Texas, and moved to New York, so I'm lost with some of the flowers and shrubs and definitely the trees here. I might have to enlist your help! As soon as this pergola and patio are finished! :)

  31. Mom, That is so exciting about being able to watch the birds! I think I like things so much more on video now a days. I'll check it out!

    Marmee, Thanks! Not sure how much I'll post on the business on here, but we'll see.

    Kanak, Thanks! I sure hope it all goes well.

    JGH, You are very sweet. Gardening is daunting-starting a business too! One day at a time...

    Kathleen, The decision part is like the hardest! Then getting started is the next hardest step. I think I'm there finally. Thanks. Here's to success!

    Anonymous, I have been pretty busy. Once I dig them up (noticed there are extras) I'll email you and the next time hubby heads this way he can stop by and pick them up. I like almost never get over that way but do have to go a visit a friend soon, so maybe I can drop off. Just depends on who gets where first:) But let me at least dig them. Remember-they are thorny and getting quite big now. Jimmy ran into mine the other night and was not happy. Boy 1 is old enough to mow. The question is; Is mom ready to give up the reins? I'm not:( I like to mow my yard but Jimmy has occasionally done it.

    Niartist, Thanks for dropping by and welcome! You have quite the beautiful blog and very popular too. You live near Dan of Urban Veggie Garden Blog? Do you know him? He is in the Niagra area but on the Canadian side. I am constantly surprised by how many blogs are out there that may live side by side with one another and never know each other (in a metaphorical sense of course). I think once your patio is done, the garden will fall right into place. Do keep me updated on its progress. I'd love to see your very big patio. Reclaimed bricks! Lucky you! And you are one of my targets in my market niche. Texas is quite different from NY. We have a great transient population here, same deal. It is sometimes difficult to adjust but books and garden coaches of course help:)

  32. Tina, that sounds beautiful...
    (If I didn't have a most rewarding full-time job, I could ponder this, too...) I wish you all the best in this new career.
    (I must say, I haven't heard of a garden-coach here in Belgium yet... But we do have 'compost-coaches', people who teach other on compost-making. But that's never a full-time job, but done on voluntary base... In fact, my husband is just doing a course on 'compost-coaching'...)

  33. Congratulations Tina. I'm so glad that you finally saw the light. I hope your new endeavor will be as rewarding as your successes in the past.

    I'm so proud of you. You have helped me more times than you know. I may not say, but I listen & follow.

    Do keep us informed as we are all interested. We all love you & pray for your successes in each path that you choose to take.

    Go girl!!!!

  34. Anne, It is a very new thing and the big buzz word in horticultural circles. But when you think about, aren't there coaches for just about everything? Singing? Swimming? Why not gardening? I wished I had thought it up myself:) Now composting coaching would be very interesting.... And you'd be a great garden coach with all your knowledge. Still can't get over those huge beeches!

    Lola, Thanks so much! I am so glad you found this blog and we have gotten to know each other so well on here. Gardening is a joy for all, young or old and I think opens up so many possibilities for living well that any part I can do to encourage others is always a good thing. I enjoy you posting on here too. See ya soon!

  35. Hi Tina, this is just fantastic. You will be a great coach and any clients will be super lucky to have you. You are so thorough and professional by nature, it is a perfect fit. Much good much along with some big hugs too! Frances

  36. I'm sure you'd be wonderful, Tina. Your website is neat too. All the best for this new venture.

  37. Good for you. I know you'll be great at it. How perfect a job could this be, doing what you love.

  38. Tina, I always say, “things happen for a reason”. I truly believe this Garden Coach adventure is the reason you could not find a 9-5 job in an office! You are perfect to be a Garden Coach, now that I know what a Garden Coach is thanks to you and my mom. lol You will be a great asset to anyone needing advice with your passion and knowledge about gardening. You have given me many and I mean many reasons to be in the yard more so today then a year ago. Blogging has opened up such a wonderful world for us each and everyone on here. I believe this new course you are taking is great and a wonderful thing to know that you will be your own boss and do what you enjoy most in life, and get paid for it as an added bonus. I am wishing you Great Success in this new road you are traveling….

    Monica, My mom is a hoot indeed! :-)

    Jean, I must check out the website. What a great idea to post a camera to watch the activity and life unfold in the nest!

  39. Okay Coach! it's March Madness, get in the game, or at least put me in! Good to see you got things goin Ms. Tina! (I'm in the Garden Coach Directory as "TheWriteGardener.")

  40. What a great idea; that's what I need, but I didn't know it was available. I want to do my own work, in stages, but I do need someone to (gently) guide me! You go girl; best of luck in your new endeavor!

  41. Frances, Thanks very much! It means a lot your support!

    Chandramouli, Thanks very much!

    Gardeness, My thoughts exactly.

    Skeeter, And you too have taught me and I so appreciate it!

    TC, I'm going to look you up! Good deal!

    Nola, Yes, gently guiding is key for coaching. Thanks very much, it will be a fun endeavor.

  42. Tina~
    Sounds like the perfect thing for you. I wish you much success in this new venture!

  43. Best of luck and may you be only a busy as you want to be.

  44. Tina - that's fantastic news :) I love it when people follow their heart and I wish you every success!