22 Jun 10 Common Gardening Mistakes Every Beginner Makes
There are some mistakes every gardener makes, even if they have years of experience in nurturing plants. If you are a newcomer to the art of maintaining a garden, you can expect to make a few blunders of your own as you learn the ropes.
To help point you in the right direction, here are a few of the most common gardening mistakes which you should try to avoid.
Plants are fairly delicate, temperamental things, and can easily shrivel and die if you neglect to keep them adequately watered.
This should be obvious even to the gardening novice. But what you might not realise is that you can also over-water plants if you are a bit too enthusiastic with the hose or watering can.
Amongst the most common gardening mistakes, this is one of the biggest to look out for. You don’t want to kill your plants with kindness, but rather be sparing with your watering to keep them in good health.
While seedlings are developing, they do need a lot of water. However, after planting they will create their own intricate network of roots that will be every efficient at sucking up the moisture from the soil. So unless your area is going through a drought, there’s no need to water established plants day after day.
Watering your plants from above
Sure, the rain pours out of the sky and down onto your plants in great volumes throughout the year. But that doesn’t mean you should mimic it by spraying water directly onto the upmost parts of the flora in your care.
It’s the roots, not the leaves, which absorb the water, so you need to water as close to the ground as possible. Investing in an irrigation system can help to deliver the most consistent results.
Good watering practices will not only prevent plants from kicking the bucket, but will also make them hardier over time. By getting them accustomed to ‘deep’ watering, you will be encouraging their roots to dig in as much as possible, rather than staying near the surface of the soil.
Planting your favorite plants out of season
Gardens are seasonal by nature, and the plants that occupy them will follow the ebb and flow of spring, summer, autumn and winter. Responding to seasonal shifts is central to the way that plants operate, so you need to take this into account when planting.
Some plants have a very narrow window during which they should be planted, while others give you a little more leeway. In either case, if you miss this opportunity and plant them out of season, disaster is likely to follow.
At best, seeds won’t germinate and nothing will grow. At worst, your plants will perish due to excessive heat or cold at a time of year when they aren’t able to thrive.
Not keeping on top of your Garden
Gardening is an ongoing process, not something you can dip in and out of when you feel like it. And unless you’re willing to pay for professional help, you’ll need to work hard to keep on top of all the important tasks that need tackling throughout the year.
Things definitely get a bit more intense in the spring and summer months, but beginners often overlook the things they need to achieve in the autumn and winter. Whether that’s cutting back plants so that they grow back stronger next year, or getting your bulbs in at the right time, keeping on top of your garden and not procrastinating is vital.
It helps to keep a diary of what needs to get done, and by when. That way you’ll be able to see deadlines looming and take action in time.
Not giving space your plants require
Plants are in constant competition with their neighbors to get the water, nutrients and sunlight they need to grow. So if you bunch them too close together, survival of the fittest will whittle down their number surprisingly quickly.
This is why it pays to take the time to space out your seeds and give plants room to grow and flourish. Each plant has its own space requirements, so check out the seed packet to get this info, or search online if you are still unsure.
Not taking into account the sun
Every schoolchild learns about how plants convert sunlight into energy through the process of photosynthesis. However, one of the mistakes every gardener makes at least once in their life is to position a plant in a place where the sun can’t get to it.
That is not to say there aren’t some plants which have evolved to grow rapidly in shadier areas. But when it comes to creating a vegetable patch, there’s a reason that it needs to be in a sunny of a spot as possible.
Plants which put a lot of energy into producing veg or fruit need sunlight throughout the day. So if you have a plan to plant some tomatoes, courgettes or cucumbers, make sure they aren’t being blocked by the shadow of a wall, tree or fence.
Not frequently moving pests
A gardener’s work is never done, especially when it comes to tackling those annoying critters that come out to chew on your precious plants when you have your back turned.
From tiny aphids to titanic slugs, there are lots of pests that can play havoc with your plant life. If you don’t deal with them frequently, you could end up with a lot of dead and dying plants on your hands.
You don’t need to use pesticides if you’re concerned about the ecological impact that they have; often it’s enough to just move the pests away from the area they are focusing on. This is particularly true for slugs and snails, which are notoriously slow and will take a long time to congregate again after you shift them.
Completely forgetting the weather
An amateur gardener just getting started with this fabulous, fulfilling hobby might not think to check the weather forecast and use this to plan their green-fingered jobs for the weekend. But the climate can be a cruel mistress and if you forget to keep an eye on it, calamities might occur.
This isn’t just about keeping an eye out for sudden cold snaps so that your early-spring planting efforts don’t go to waste; it’s also about knowing when is the right time to apply weed killer. For example, if you spray plant-killing toxins on your unwanted weeds just before a period of heavy rain, or when the wind is particularly strong, they can be transferred to the plants you actually want to keep.
Since the weather can change unexpectedly, it’s a good idea to check the forecast on your smartphone before you head into the garden, even if you’ve glanced at it earlier in the week.
Pulling up flowers as well as weeds
It takes years to get used to the thousands of different plant species and sub-categories that you’ll encounter in the garden. This means beginners are more likely to pull up flowers and other valuable plants when weeding than their more experienced counterparts.
There’s definitely an art to telling the difference between a flower and weed, but with practice, you should find that you can pick them out easily. Just don’t go overboard with your first weeding sessions and you’ll be fine.
Soil is as complex as the plant life that occupies it, but most common gardening mistakes can boil down to not appreciating this fact.
Soil is different depending on the area in which you live, and can even vary in different parts of the same garden. If your soil is not especially rich in important minerals, you’ll need to add compost to bring it up to a standard that will support plants effectively.
If you’re taking the first step in your gardening adventure, it’s a good idea to do plenty of research and get the help of those with more experience to overcome some of these early obstacles.