Gardening is a great adventure, but there are plenty of mistakes that most amateur gardeners make along the way. Whether it is the watering technique, how to deal with pests or weed control, any simple mistake can lead to dead plants, bad produce, and a mockery garden outright. The good thing is it is never too late to change but it takes experience. Here are 10 biggest gardening mistakes and some advice on how to avoid them.
1. Not Preparing the Soil
There is no need to buy plants if you are going to plop them into poor quality soil. If the beds are not well made, the young plants will have a hard time penetrating into the ground, and this may result in stunted growth. Digging the garden beds thoroughly and incorporating plenty of compost will help to loosen the soil for good root penetration. You can also opt to make raised beds if you don’t want to dig deep.
Also, don’t forget that just like living organisms, soil keeps changing and evolving. Plants deplete soil nutrients while poor soil drainage and heavy rainfall can fluctuate soil conditions such as pH. It is, therefore, important to check mineral profile and soil pH levels before every growing season to take the necessary measures.
Take your time to aerate the soil, remove weeds, and incorporate organic matter into the soil before you plant anything. Also, it would be best if you considered mulching your garden to help keep roots cooler in the heat, suppress weeds, hold soil moisture, protect your soil from heavy rains and wind, and preserve helpful micro-organisms that help to improve soil quality.
2. Planting out of Season
You may have probably planted your plants at the wrong time of the year, and they grow a bit in the beginning and then die. Although this may not be a big issue in tropical areas, seasons have a significant impact on plants up north. Planting too early in spring tends to leave the plants at the mercy of late frosts while delaying too much make the plants miss on vigorous growth before the unforgiving summer temperatures.
So, all cool-season plants and summer plants need to be planted at their respective season. Also, ensure that you have enough growing days in your respective growing season. For example, if the growing season is too short, you can extend it with greenhouses or growing seedlings in advance. You’ll also need to know your growing zone to determine the plants that are suitable for your location and also, listen to advice from local gardeners for the best results. Having proper knowledge of how to take care of your lawn in spring is also very important.
3. Planting Trees at the Front Garden or too Close to the House
It is not uncommon to see big trees taking over most of our front yards. The trees not only invade doors and windows spaces but also they are associated with most garden problems, including too much shade, blocking light to the house, and constant dampness. Although one may argue that regular pruning will keep the trees under control, but what about the roots that may swell and make the foundation of your house unstable? Thus, it is not a good idea to plant a tree too close to your house, especially the front garden. You need to make sure to have proper plans for your Front Garden to look better.
However, the best solution is to look for smaller and modest trees that won’t dominate the front space. Flagpole cherries are a good option because of their unusual slim nature and gorgeous pink flowers. Other options that don’t need tons of space include Japanese maples, weeping cherry, and weeping pear.
4. Overwatering or Underwatering your Plants
Appropriate and consistent watering is key to successfully gardening. Irregular watering techniques, both overwatering and underwatering, will eventually kill your plants. Underwatering is where you spray on the surface only without saturating the soil. This is not enough, and often, when you scrape the ground a little, you will find it is still dry.
For a healthy garden, you must saturate your soil. You can use a garden fork to ensure maximum penetration, and if the water is not easily absorbing, poke the ground and fill the holes with water where it will be absorbed into the deeper soil slowly.
However, overwatering your garden can encourage root rot and fungus. Just like other plant tissues, the roots need to breathe, and this may not be possible if the air pockets are soaking wet. Also, too much water can decrease the yield of some flowers and plants.
Underwatering your plants, on the other hand, leaves the roots with very little water resulting in shallow root run. Also, your plants may become dependent on frequent watering and wilting quickly since the roots have not grown deep into the soil to offer the necessary support. Thus, ensure to water the plants deeply every time but not too much as to suffocate the roots.
Also, many gardeners get it wrong when it comes to watering timing. Watering in the heat of the day makes your plants lose a lot of water through evaporation, and also water droplets can scorch your delicate leaves. As such, to maintain the moisture and protect the leaves, you should water your garden the first thing in the morning or late in the evening.
5. Overcrowded Plants
When planning a garden, most beginner gardeners vastly overestimate or underestimate how many plants or flowers to put in the ground. Overcrowding your garden will not give your plants enough room to grow, and it is a complete waste of time and resources. Having too many plants in the garden will also have more trouble with pests and diseases.
Plant spacing is very vital, and the best thing is to determine what plants you need and the final dimensions so that you can space them appropriately and plant conservatively. If your space is limited, it is better to have plant fewer plants than to plant them too close.
6. Scalping the Lawn
The lawn is an integral part of any garden, and often may people make the mistake of scalping it, i.e., cutting the grass too short. This can be a major problem, especially during drought, and as such, it would be a good idea to leave your grass a bit longer if you anticipate a dry spell. This will help the grass retain moisture and stay healthier. Also, remember not to water the lawn during the heat of the day to avoid scotching the blades.
7. Applying too much Pesticides
Being too handy with pesticides can be a big mistake, especially if you are growing herbs and vegetables in your garden. Pesticides tend to scare away pollinators, and this is why you may find very few fruits and vegetables even after fertilizing and watering your garden meticulously. You need pollinators to ensure a good harvest, and you should remember that not all pests visiting your yard are your enemies. So before you spray anything, be sure of what you are spraying. In addition, you can device other methods such as using a scarecrow, in case of a vegetable garden, to scare away unwanted pests.
8. Over/under Fertilizing
If you do not intend to go big in as far as a flavorful garden is concerned, you’ll probably get away without fertilizing your plants. However, failure to provide your garden with adequate nutrients is going to limit your results severely. In the way, you should not over-fertilize your plants. While your plants will get enough nutrients, too much fertilizer can also kill plants or depress the yields. Remember, the idea is to be moderate with everything. That said, it is a good idea to fertilize during planting, and once every four weeks after that.
9. Inadequate Weed Control
Most gardens will have a problem with annual weeds, and proper monitoring is crucial. Weeds compete with your plants for nutrients and water; thus, you should always uproot them as soon as possible. Often, you may be tempted to chop the top off of a weed with a hoe. However, most stubborn weeds such as thistles and dandelions tend to have firm root structure deep under the soil, and you must dig as deeper as you can to remove the leaves.
You can also use a systematic herbicide to kill the weeds. However, it would be best if you were careful with the chemical herbicides as they can work against your plants. Some herbicides are designed to kill certain kinds of weed, and when not used appropriately, they can wreak damage on your plants or other parts of your garden.
10. Slug Invasion
Many gardeners don’t take the problem of slag invasion seriously until it is too late. Slugs breed rapidly even in early spring, and by summer, their number may become uncontrollable. Regardless of whether you are using eggshells, copper tape, or grit, you will need to control them early enough so that you can have a much easier summer. The most effective method is sprinkling some salt around the plants to kill the already existing ones and to deter others.
Gardening is a relaxing and enjoyable fun exercise that every homeowner should embrace. However, there is no point in growing plants or flowers that you don’t like or those that will struggle in the garden. Take your time to understand your space and plan on how you want to use and maintain the space. However, the best thing is not to give up and remember even the most experienced gardeners keep on learning new things about soil, weather conditions, and new plants.
William Phillips was born and raised in Keller, Texas. He is a licensed general contractor, and he has been a home improvement specialist for two decades. His passion for the trade led him to freelance writing to share his life experiences with his readers. Phillips enjoys thoroughly researching DIY tools and writing guides at ToolsHaunt as a way of giving back to the community.