7 Common Gardening Mistakes (And How to Solve Them)
Gardening mistakes and misconceptions are more common than you might think. Learn how to avoid them.
We have all committed them from time to time, especially when we were new to gardening or caring for our landscape.
One HomeandGardenDesignIdeas reader tells us of the time she mistakenly killed a crop of native Arisaema triphyllum, or Jack-in-the-pulpit, thinking it was, instead, some newly growing poison ivy. With leaves of three, the plant can resemble the vine a bit, especially before it flowers.
- Accidentally pulling or killing flowers instead of weeds is one of the most common gardening mistakes. Tracking plants and recognizing perennials when they emerge in the spring can be difficult. Take photos of the plants at all stages, so you can recognize them, and insert labeled popsicle sticks in the soil near the plants for identification.
- We tend to think of overwatering as a hazard for house plants, but outdoor gardens can suffer from overwatering, too. Too much water and poor drainage can drown roots, leading to rot. The easiest way to take the guess work out of watering is by installing a smart irrigation system. Otherwise, you must monitor the soil yourself. Soil with a good moisture level will form a lose ball when you squeeze it in your hand.
- Planting your garden in the wrong spot can be another mistake that might not be evident until after you have done all of the work of putting it in. If your garden is always too soggy or too dry, you may have placed in in the wrong spot. You can sometimes correct this by using drainage or watering systems, or by removing sun-blocking obstacles, if you don’t want to move your garden.
- If your vegetable plants don’t bear fruit or your flowers look a bit scraggly, you might have forgotten to prepare your soil. Pick up a home soil testing kit to learn your garden soil make up. Then you can treat it with organic compost and the other nutrients that might be lacking.
- Another reader tells us of the time he planted chocolate mint in his backyard garden, envisioning a summer full of minted lemonade and ice tea. His crop grew well, but it kept on growing, taking over the garden year after year. Planting invasive species is another common garden mistake. When a plant is labeled as vigorous or prolific reseeder, it is best to practice some container gardening to keep things under control, otherwise make sure to cull your garden often.
- Not protecting your garden against native wildlife is another mistake that is often made in the garden. Bunnies, squirrels and dear are some of the creatures that view your garden as their own buffet. To protect your garden, you can build fences, choose bulbs and plants that the wildlife don’t eat, and spray a deterrent on your plants. There are many natural repellents available.
- Chemical herbicides for killing weeds or unwanted grass may look like a simple solution, but using too much of it is one of the worse mistakes a gardener can make. The chemicals can stay in the soil for a very long time and poison it. A better way to remove unwanted patches of weeds and grasses is by applying a natural mixture of hot water and vinegar, daily for several days. When things turn brown, they can be easily pulled and disposed.
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