It’s that time of year again when the sun shines a little longer each day and summer feels closer than winter. This is one of my favorite seasons because it gets me back to my garden and other landscape projects that I enjoy.

There seems to be an unspoken contest in my neighborhood for the greenest lawn and most colorful garden. No ribbons are awarded or anything like that, but every so often, if you time it just right, you’ll catch one of the neighbors taking a sneak peak at the competition, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, as I was planning out this season’s garden it made me realize how many things there were to consider. Things like what plants might need more sunlight, or which ones might need more room to grow. I also had to make plans to keep out things that could destroy my garden, like the rabbits that think my garden is a free buffet. All of this made me think about the similarities between planning out a garden and planning for retirement.

First, you have to plan out what you want your retirement to look like. Some things in our retirement garden started out as seedlings; we may have planted them many years ago, like an old 401(k) that has now matured into something much larger. In more recent years we may have added new investments to our portfolio as we transitioned from accumulation to planning for income and distribution.

And just like keeping the rabbits out of our garden, we have to be vigilant about the things that can eat away at our retirement plan like taxes, inflation and hidden fees. You might not have a green thumb and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that without some guidance you can’t have a beautiful garden. The same goes for retirement planning. You don’t have to be an expert to have the retirement you’ve always dreamed of, but it probably makes a lot of sense to have an expert guiding you.

Seeking the assistance of a financial professional to help create your retirement plan is a great way to start. The investment options are plentiful and so are the potentially costly hazards. Learn from experience and most importantly learn from a professional who specializes in retirement planning. The great news is that most financial professionals offer a complimentary meeting to discuss how they may be able to help you. It’s important to take advantage of these offers so you feel comfortable with the person you choose to work with.

So get out there and enjoy your garden, and don’t forget to keep an eye out for that rabbit!