For every type of flowers, shrubs or trees you plant in the garden, there are various things to learn. Most newbies and naïve gardeners tend to make mistakes, such as planting a winter-sensitive perennial in a cold climate, choosing a tree that grows too big for their garden in a few years, or excessively pruning a bush and ending up with an unpleasant look. Hopefully, your garden will recover itself over time. Don’t get discouraged if you made an error. You can’t learn without mistakes!
Here’s how to avoid making these common gardening mistakes:
Gardening Mistake (1) : Making a Mulch Volcano
Such mistakes are common in yards. Even some professional landscape gardeners might make this one. Creating a mulch cone at the base of trees or bushes is a big no-no. The thick layer of mulch around the stem or trunk will trap the moisture and prevent ventilation. This in turn will lead to base rot, creating the perfect place for pests and encouraging diseases. Also, plant roots might circle around the mulch bed and get compressed like they would in a pot.
Solution: Use a 2 to 3-inch deep layer of mulch, and make a ring around the tree base.
Gardening Mistake (2) : No Flowers to Attract Pollinators
If you’ve planted fruit bearing plants in the garden, you must know that they require pollination to develop fruits. Not all plants are self-pollinators, in fact many plants (such as berries, tomatoes, squash, apples and watermelon) are pollinated by bees, wasps and butterflies. In other words, no pollination, no fruit.
Solution: flowers have never failed to attract pollinator insects. Plant a bunch of nectar-rich flowers around your vegetables for insects to reach easier. Plants such as catnip, lavender, bee balm, thyme, dill, oregano and fennel will work perfectly.
Gardening Mistake (3) : Putting Plants in the Wrong Spot
Before placing a plant beside your front door or in a sunny area inside the garden, do some research and see whether it’s shade-loving or needs lots of sunlight to survive. Sun-lovers will not thrive or bloom if kept in a shaded area.
Solution: According to a wise motto of expert gardeners, you should put the “right plant in right place”. Before purchasing a plant or seeds, read through the label and see if you can provide it with required conditions. Keep in mind: full sun means +6 hours of direct sunlight per day; part sun means about +3 hours of sunlight; full shade means no direct sunlight during the day.
Gardening Mistake (4) : Not Checking a Plant’s Hardiness Zone
The green and thriving display of plants during summer and spring shall not trick you. Many plants are winter-sensitive and won’t survive much under such condition.
Solution: You always want to check the plant tag or packet label before purchase. Make sure your plant is tolerant to the area’s Hardiness zone. There’s no reason to get a plant that won’t make it through the whole year.
Gardening Mistake (5) : Placing Plants Too Close Together
Just like people, plants require some space to breathe. The space between every two plant must be enough to allow air circulation between branches and roots. Placing the plants too close to each other will reduce the overall yield, also making them prone to diseases. Whether it’s the garden plants or containers, remember to maintain enough distance.
Solution: Read the seed label or plant tag and description for how far apart to plant, and follow the recommended spacing intervals.
Gardening Mistake (6) : Installing One Type of Plant in a Row
Of course you want a neat row of same plants to give a tidy look to your garden. Although the idea seems very fascinating, we recommend you otherwise. Such cultivation manner is known as ‘monoculture’. If there comes a disease or pest outbreak, it’ll most likely infect every single plant in same row and you might lose them all at once. It would look even worse if one or two in the middle are lost.
Solution: Choose different plants for a single row, or plant your trees and bushes in clusters. In addition to creating a neat landscape, you will provide enough habitat for beneficial insects and birds while preventing the spread of diseases common among plants of the same genera.
Gardening Mistake (7) : Digging Holes Too Deep
Most amateur gardeners – even professionals! – make this mistake without even noticing it. If a plant dies, last possibility you’ll think of is probably how it was planted.
Solution: The hole you dig must be about thrice as wide as the container. Remember to set the plant at the same level as it was in the container. If you’re going to mulch the area, make an inch of room for the base. When planting trees, be cautious to keep the root flare slightly above the ground. The wider portion of the base shall not be buried under the soil.
Gardening Mistake (8) : Underestimating a Plant’s Mature Size
Don’t get fooled by the small size of a baby plant! It might be just a few inches, but it won’t stay that way. Some people complain about the oversized trees or shrubs towering over their house or blocking out the sunlight.
Solution: The importance of reading the plant tag or label can’t be stressed enough. Heed your plant’s mature size. Ignoring the basic info will probably cause more trouble and costs in the future.
Gardening Mistake (9) : Pruning Shrubs Too Aggressively or Too Early
Pruning dead branches and getting the tree or bush back in shape is really tempting, but you must know that some plants develop flowering branches on old wood from last year’s growth, and some need fresh branches to bloom on. If you prune the shrub too soon, you might destroy this year’s flowers without noticing it. Such mistake is common with certain types of hydrangeas and forsythia.
Solution: Don’t rush it. If you’re unsure about your plant, wait until it fully blooms. After the flowering period is over, go ahead and prune it. However, it’s okay to gently prune a plant that develops blooms on old wood during early spring.
Gardening Mistake (10) : Adding Pot Soil to Planting Hole
Although traditional gardeners used to add potting soil (aka peat) into plant holes, you don’t really want to do that. It has been proven that such action won’t be helpful in the long run. The peat at the hole base prevents proper drainage and most likely will limit the growing space for plant roots. Planting on a peat-based hole probably leads to weakened tree or bush.
Solution: Dig a hole twice as wide as the container with equal depth. Set the plant inside the hole and fill the gaps only with the soil you just dug out. Do not add anything else to the hole and let the plant grow in a unified soil composition.
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