Garden humour Gardening

Murphy’s Law of Gardening

If it hasn’t already gone wrong, it will! Source: &, montage: laidbackgardener

I first learned of Murphy’s Law (Remember? “Everything that can go wrong will”) in chemistry class, but over the years, I have come to the conclusion that it must have originally been created by a gardener. No matter how hard you try to put all the chances on your side, something will inevitably go wrong and your garden just won’t ever have that Martha Stewart look of perfection it was supposed to have.

You don’t believe me? Try reading over the following list of things I have noticed and see if they don’t also apply to you!

Did You Ever Notice…

That you can never get grass to grow in your lawn, but it always thrives in your flower bed?

That, when after five years of waiting and your lilac finally does bloom, it’s never the color it was supposed to be?


That the temperature alarm in the greenhouse will work perfectly during your weekly tests, but will fail the very day your heater goes on the blink?

That if you grow a fruit tree, the best fruit will always be on the branches that reach across into your neighbor’s yard?

That if you plant 25 seeds, either nothing will come up or 436 plants will?

That when, after years of exasperation, you finally yank out that rhododendron that never bloomed for you, it will bloom like crazy in the garden of the neighbor who harvested it from the trash?


That the grass really is greener on your neighbor’s side of the fence?

That it will rain every day of your vacation away, while, back at home, it won’t have rained at all and your plants will have keeled over from drought?

That if you plant cold weather vegetables, you’ll have a hot summer and if you plant heat-loving vegetables, you’ll still be wearing a parka in mid-July?

That your garden-sown plants will grow like weeds until after you thin them to just the right spacing, then the cutworms will attack?

That pesticides never turn out to be efficient at the recommended dose, yet if you exceed the dosage by even one drop, they’ll kill off your entire garden?

That your garden will look at its absolute best until the day before the garden club comes for a visit, then powdery mildew will have covered every plant overnight?

That the Farmer’s Almanac is always absolutely spot-on right until you finally decide to follow its advice, then it will have an off year?

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But the label said dwarf conifer! Source: & www.deviantart, montage:

That the dwarf conifers you put in your rock garden always turns out to be more closely related to a California giant redwood?

That, after telling your son he can’t bring his caterpillar collection into the house, he’ll always release it in the vegetable garden?

That the truckload of “topsoil” you spent hours carefully spreading over your entire lawn always turns out to be herbicide-laden sand colored dark brown with charcoal dust?

That, after having carefully chosen your new home for its perfect exposure, all three of your neighbors will immediately plant fast-growing shade trees within 6 inches (15 cm) of the property line?

That the lush green color of your lawn in early spring always turns out to be due to a healthy crop of dandelions and crabgrass?


That hordes of birds and squirrels always discover your cherries 24 hours before they are actually ripe?

That your exhibition dahlias will always reach their peak the day after the dahlia show registry closes?

That no matter how great the expertise of the person you entrust your houseplants to while you’re away, you will come home to find your prize ones dead?

That you can’t possibly have a lawn or garden if you have kids and/or dogs?

But also, of course…

That, no matter how many things go wrong in your garden, enough things go right that you’re willing to start all over again the next year?

A Laidback Gardener’s Response to Murphy’s Law of Gardening

A garden doesn’t have to be perfect, it only has to be yours! Source:

Learn to close your eyes imperfection in the garden and instead appreciate the joy it brings you.

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

2 comments on “Murphy’s Law of Gardening

  1. The origin of Murphy’s Law can be traced back to the mid-20th century. It is named after Edward A. Murphy, Jr., an American aerospace engineer. The law is said to have originated during a rocket sled experiment in 1949, where Murphy expressed his frustration when a set of sensors were incorrectly installed. He reportedly remarked, “If there is any way to do it wrong, he’ll find it.” The quote was later simplified to “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong,” and thus, Murphy’s Law was born. Try Paulmankin’s Law. It really works.

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