6 Common Gardening Mistakes Pros Want You to Stop Making

By | March 26, 2024

With gardening season quickly approaching, we spoke to experts to find out what common gardening mistakes people should avoid at all costs and the best tips on what to do instead.

Here are 6 gardening mistakes to watch out for so you can have a thriving garden.

Incorrect placement of the plants

Gardeners often skip planning the placement of their plants, which can lead to disappointing results. “We all want to squeeze as much into the garden as possible,” says Fern Berg, the founder of Tree Vitalize.

You don’t want to plant a tree or vegetable without carefully considering its final size. Berg explains how a pumpkin vine can quickly take over a small vegetable garden if not placed carefully. And a tree planted too close to a house can become a problem later.

Michael Giannelli of East Hampton Gardens agrees. “Overpopulation is a mistake,” he says.

Plants need space to grow and spread naturally. This is why, before planting anything, you should check the plant label (grown vegetables and flowers at your local nursery will have these). For trees, don’t forget to check not only their maturity height and spreading potential, but also whether they have invasive roots, Berg suggests.

These tree species may be a poor candidate for planting near buildings, such as your home.

Not using the space

At the same time, some gardeners forget that they can use unexpected parts of the garden, such as growing plants on their garden fences.

“With vertical gardening you can make excellent use of an empty piece of wall or fence,” says Berg. This method of gardening is especially suitable for smaller gardens in urban areas.

Although vertical gardening may require additional tools or knowledge, it can help you maximize the garden space you have. Berg recommends purchasing a vertical planter or making one yourself if you don’t have fences on which to grow plants.

Planting in the wrong climate

Not every garden plant does well in your region.

“I always wrongly assumed that if my local big garden center sold it, I could put it in the ground and watch it bloom,” says Berg. But this is not always the case, especially if your plant is not heat tolerant.

To avoid making this mistake again, choose plants that best suit your climate. First, identify your USDA growing zone. Berg explains how these zones were developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which allows you to determine the hardiness zones for each tree and flower.

When purchasing seeds you can often find attached information explaining their zone range. So make sure that the plant you choose suits the specific zone of your area.

Overwatering with sprinklers

Not watering your plants properly can cause them to drown from being overwatered, or to become thirsty from being underwater, says Teri Valenzuela, natural sciences manager at Sunday Lawn Care.

This huge problem can lead to root rot and yellow leaves. In his experience, Giannelli noted that many people tend to use irrigation systems for both their gardens and lawns. While this is great for the lawn, it’s not great for everything else, says Giannelli. Each plant needs its own preferred amount of water.

But you can avoid making this mistake by watering manually with a hose. This allows you to determine how much or how little water to give each plant, based on its personal special needs.

Using the wrong size pot

If you grow your vegetables from seed, it’s easy to assume that a smaller pot will always suffice. “Plus pots can get expensive and heavy depending on what you’re growing,” says Dan Allen, gardener and CEO/co-founder of Farmscape.

But the right size pot is worth the investment and can make the difference between success and failure in a container garden.

“Smaller pots dry out more quickly and provide less room for the plant to develop new roots as it ages,” says Allen.

Allen recommends using “rules of thumb” to choose the right pot for your plant. Choose a diameter that is 1 to 2 inches larger than the plant going in. Although this may apply to a short-lived annual plant. If you are planting a new fruit tree, this may not be the case. To be sure, always consult your local tree nursery.

Don’t test your soil first

This is a mistake gardeners make when they’re too eager to start planting. But before you put a plant in the ground, take a step back and test your soil, says Bryan Clayton, co-founder of GreenPal.

“Different plants need different things from their soil,” he says. While some plants need soil more acidic, some prefer alkaline or other nutrients. “Skipping the soil test is like trying to bake a cake without knowing what ingredients you’re missing,” says Clayton.

Fortunately, you can purchase a test kit to test nutrients or pH balance at almost any local garden center. Test your soil and find out which plants will do well in it.

Read next: How to Improve Garden Soil with Amendments

Read the original article on The Spruce.

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