Basketball Gardening

Forget Lasagna Gardening. Basketball Gardening is where it’s at!

Basketball Gardening offers many lessons and introduces kids to concepts they would never encounter just playing basketball.

In fact, it’s like so many good things in life that are great individually, but when combined… well, it’s just that more special. Like peanut butter and chocolate, Basketball Gardening is a winning combination when it comes to teaching your kids about horticulture.

“It’s the sort of thing a lot of gardeners experience – it’s actually quite prevalent in some gardens – but it just hasn’t been brought out into the open and discussed. The fact is that it’s a great way to introduce your kids to concepts like harvesting, plant loss, and compacted soil.”

– Jennifer (me)

With three boys, it’s a good thing I’ve learned to enjoy Basketball Gardening. I’ve actually gotten quite good at using it for many teachable “horticultural time-outs” as I lovingly refer to them.

Just the other day, I shared with PJ how prolific my basketball crop was this particular summer. I clarified, “That means they’re all over my garden.”

Between you and me, I’ve always thought orange adds a little sophistication to the garden.

For years, I’ve tried to keep themthe boys and the basketballsout of my gardens. But, I’ve come to see them for what they are…quasi-self-sowers that are easy to pull, don’t compact that soil, and often spur me to a little respite from garden chores.  Culling out a basketball usually leads to a quick game of Lightning with one of the boys.

If you’ve gotten any practice Basketball Gardening yourself, you know that Footballs can also make their way into the landscape. (I’ve heard that Tennis balls  can do this, too. But, I think Sonny gets to them before I find them.)

To be clear, they are an equally valuable teaching tool in the garden. As I often tell the boys, “All sports are great. One sport is not better than another.”

At Everest Lane House, Footballs don’t usually start invading until late summer – usually about the time your Black Eyed Susans are in full glory.

I’ve come to think of the area along the fence as a sort of sideline; and the Black Eyed Susans are, figuratively speaking, the cheerleaders. Like real cheerleaders, they can occasionally get beaned by one of these overthrown spiraling invasives.

Under this football WAS a Black Eyed Susan. RIP, dear.

Unlike Basketballs, Footballs seem to be able to hide themselves a little better in dense foliage. True dat, they can be thrown much deeper into the garden than basketballs. But with a decent Fall cleanup, most of them can be found and harvested.

Major Disclaimer: Around here for every “true dat” I write, I have to write five “Skol’s“. And, they have to be capitalized and require an exclamation mark. It was part of our Ebeling Family Harmony Accord from 2010. So, Skol! Skol! Skol! Skol! Skol!

Once I found three Basketballs and a very special/dearly missed Football under a large Sum and Substance Hosta in the Front Porch Garden. Fences were mended that day because our long-suffering little John was vindicated; he actually hadn’t “irresponsibly left” PJ’s beloved Nerf Football behind on the school playground at recess (this had always been the suspicion).

Speaking of the boys, PJ and John helped me pick this afternoon. We had pretty good luck and even found a few things Sonny might like.

As Nancy Peters (the Weed Lady) told me, “The garden is such a place of bounty and beauty“.

Before I forget, one other positive thing about this type of harvest; it never spoils and it’s always put to good use.

Okay. Horticultural Time-out’s over. Mama loves you. Go play.

Still growing...




Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
Jennifer Ebeling
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5 Comments

  1. Suzanne McRae on September 12, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Love your sense of humour as a mom. Boys will be boys. Thank you for introducing me to Basketball Gardening. I had never heard of it, but I had heard of Lasagna Gardening which I tried a few years back. Priceless photos especially the last one. 🙂

    • Jennifer Ebeling on September 14, 2013 at 8:54 am

      Thanks Suzanne.
      We sure love our boys, don’t we? I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. I know we both have gotten started with Liv & Michele and it is nice to stay connected to our little beginning group.
      I’ll stop by your place next!
      Jennifer

  2. Dianne Walters on September 13, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Love it! It must be a Minnesota thing! I’m also a mom of 3 boys, but mine are triplets (17 yrs old)! Here I’ve been practicing Basketball Gardening for years and I never knew it!
    I have found tennis balls in shrubs that had probably been there for several years, but also find various other things like frisbees and baseballs hiding in my gardens!

    • Jennifer Ebeling on September 14, 2013 at 8:57 am

      Hi Dianne.
      Wow. Triplet boys – 17. State Farm must love you.
      I can tell you are a seasoned Basketball Gardener. I have limited experience with the frisbees and baseballs – thanks to our lab Sonny. He mouths those things to death.
      Nice to virtually meet you!
      Jennifer

  3. Colleen Walsh Fong on October 1, 2013 at 7:53 am

    I enjoyed the natural style of pruning my son and his friends performed on surrounding plants while shooting hoops on the driveway. We didn’t “grow” a lot of footballs in our several garden rooms, but I still find baseballs and plastic golf balls in very interesting spots around the grounds.

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