Gardening is a popular hobby across the U.S. Although anyone can try out gardening and make their front or back lawns look nice, there are many gardening mistakes that can be made.
Creating and maintaining a flower bed or vegetable patch is a fine way to contribute to the property’s landscape. This can impress home buyers when the property is put on the market for sale. Of course, plants need a good deal of care, and they should be thought of as pets rather than simple decorations.
Flowers and vegetables of all kinds are sensitive to factors such as watering, the hardness and acidity (and even the type) of the soil, sunlight exposure, and the fertilizer used for them. Some common gardening mistakes may, unfortunately, result in stunted or dead plants, but the good news is that any aspiring gardener can learn these tips and make their flowers or vegetables grow well the first time around.
Timing for Planting
A new gardener (you) may be tempted to just plant some seeds at their first convenience and wait for some flowers to bloom. But certain plants may suffer if they are planted during the wrong time of year. This is one of the common gardening mistakes.
For the most part, this is an issue of frosty earth. In early spring, it is possible for the ground to become very cold at night. This will harm newly sprouting plants and possibly kill them.
To avoid planting flowers or vegetables too early, a gardener is advised to use a specialized thermometer in the soil and make sure that it is warm enough for the plants. Noting the last frost date is another useful reference for the timing of new seeds.
On a related note, certain plant species will grow better in certain times of the year and do poorly in other seasons. So, you are advised to check the seed packet’s printed text and see when the seeds should be planted; if it’s too hot or cold for the plants, there will be trouble. But if you plant them in the right time frame, those plants will do well.
The Right Spot
Plants care about real estate; they need the right location to grow and for a variety of reasons. One issue is the size of a fully grown plant. Some vegetables may surprise you in how big they become by the time they mature.
A too-small garden will be very cramped and might limit the size of the plants that grow there. Be sure you know how big your plants will get when they’re fully mature, and space them out accordingly. This will limit which spots in your yard are suitable for a garden, but it’s worth it to grow the vegetables correctly.
Regardless of plant size, the garden itself should be situated so that the plants there get enough sunlight exposure each day. Shadows from trees, your house, and your garden shed should be factored in.
Don’t forget water, either; place your garden in a spot so you don’t need a really long hose to water it regularly. If possible, put your garden within reach of a 25-50 foot long hose, or if you’d rather use a watering can, a shorter trip is preferred.
Barriers and Defenses
Suppose your vegetable garden is well-situated, and all the plants there are growing properly. That’s good news. But beware: wild animals will invite themselves to your garden and devour it if they can get access, such as rabbits (a common problem) or gophers.
Animals can slip through holes in a fence or climb up or down trees to access your garden. Gophers, being the digging experts they are, will pop up from underneath. All this may devastate your garden, so prepare some defenses.
If your yard is thoroughly fenced off, double-check that there are no holes or gaps in the fence that would allow animals to get in, and patch up any holes you find. Meanwhile, you might also consider setting up chicken wire or another netting around the garden, to simply block animals from getting to the garden. This is a good idea if you have no way to prevent animals from getting into the yard in general.
As for gophers, it’s generally not a good idea to try and kill them (and that’s often illegal). You can set up underground speakers that scare them off or even install underground metal nets that simply block them from digging under the garden.
Gardening Mistakes of Watering
Everyone knows that plants need to be watered. What they don’t know is that it’s surprisingly easy to overdo it or water the plants too lightly. This is one of the biggest gardening mistakes new gardeners make.
One error to avoid is giving the plants a superficial shower, where you use a hose spray to douse the plants and get their actual bodies wet. This means that very little water gets to the roots, and the plants will wither and suffer. Make sure you’re getting water on the soil where it can soak in, and the plants can drink.
Conversely, be aware that plants can drown if they are watered too heavily. If the soil is totally waterlogged too long, then the plants can’t absorb the gases that they need and drown.
Consult expert gardeners on how much water certain plant species need, since some may need much more than others (based on their natural environment). A desert plant, for example, won’t need as much as a plant that comes from humid areas.
Take note that it’s possible for the soil’s top layer to be fairly dry while the deeper layers are quite wet. It’s not a good call to water the plants based on how dry the soil looks. You might overload them.
A thirsty plant will indeed be wilted, but sometimes, a wilting plant isn’t suffering from thirst. Some plants will wilt during hot days under the sun, then “revive” in the evening and look healthy again. If a plant is wilted during the evening or night, or it stays wilted for a few days, then it is indeed thirsty.
Avoiding the Gardening Mistakes of Shade
Shading was mentioned earlier, and now it’s time to discuss it in more detail. Some plants indeed need much more sun exposure than others, and too much or too little sunlight will spell trouble.
Vegetables will need a lot of sun, (ideally, constant exposure), so a vegetable patch must be placed out in the open where no shadows will get in the way. A vegetable patch right by the house, meanwhile, is far too shaded.
In contrast, some flowers or plants are rated as “shade” plants, meaning they don’t need very much direct sunlight. These plants are often kept indoors near windows, where they just get a modest amount of sunlight.
Do Not Forget Insects and Spiders
A proper garden isn’t just made up of plants; it’s also all about the wildlife that visits. Marauding rabbits are one thing, but by contrast, you should welcome bees, spiders, and hummingbirds in the garden. These guests are a sign that you’re doing things right.
Instead of soaking your garden in pesticides, allow spiders and other wild species to hunt pests for you. Be sure to include pollinating flowers that bees will like.
You can add windbreaks (such as shrubs) and shallow-water features to make your garden even more appealing to visiting bees. Bees will naturally do their part to keep your garden pollinated and healthy.
If bats live in your area, try building a bat house so these winged mammals will visit. Bats are not scary; they are very important for pest control since they eat a lot of mosquitoes and other noxious insects. This will keep the pest population low without the need for harmful pesticides.
Avoid Invasive Plants
This is a simple but important topic to mention: be sure that you do not add any invasive, non-native plant species to your garden. Invasive species, whether flora or fauna, tend to overwhelm and push out local species since they don’t have any natural predators or competition to limit their expansion.
You can consult a gardening expert and check a seed packet to make sure that species belongs in your area. Otherwise, invasive plants might take over your entire garden once you plant them, disrupting your garden.
Final Thoughts on Gardening Mistakes…
It is tempting to think that flowers and vegetables are easy to care for since they don’t move or risk falling down or getting stuck in places. But new gardeners are encouraged to remember all the gardening mistakes before setting up a garden. If they do, their new flower bed or vegetable patch will become gorgeous and healthy, right there in the front or back yard.
I really loved your post about avoiding common gardening mistakes. I have gardened for years, but this year I plan to put up a fence. Also, thank you for including the invasive plant segment. Very helpful.