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Gardening guidelines in a nutshell for private gardens with a vegetable patch

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Could you please give me detailed guidelines ahead of the coming shemitah year for my home garden that has fruit trees and a vegetable patch? I want to know about the major prohibitions, advanced preparation necessary, and modes of permissible care throughout the year.


Rabbi Ehud Ahituv

The halachot for tending to home gardens are specified in the various guides published by Torah VeHa'aretz Institute for the past shemitah years, and updated each time. This year the information is available for the first time in English. For the Shemitah Guide for the Ornamental Garden, click here.

See also our new book in English, The Shemitah Guide for Consumers, available also on our website, here.

The fundamental principles are as follows:

  1. All forms of planting and sowing are prohibited in the home garden.
  2. It is permissible to water plants in the usual manner. It is preferable to do this through a computerized irrigation system, but not mandatory if one does not water the plants too much.
  3. It is prohibited to prune plants to encourage new growth.
  4. When pruning is clearly performed for aesthetic purposes, it is permitted, such as straightening out a living fence, mowing lawn, etc.