Common Gardening Mistakes: How to Avoid Them

by Patrick Adams

Gardening is the favorite pastime of millions of people across the globe but it’s a hobby that involves learning about nurturing plants. Since learning is foremost a process, it takes time for someone to become a green thumb.

Beginner gardeners make common mistakes that can be listed, and more importantly, avoided in time. From selecting the wrong plants to using a weak porch light, there are the 13 most common gardening mistakes you should look to avoid.

Picking the wrong plants for your garden

There is hardly a place on the planet where plants don’t thrive, including the scorching hot volcanic soil in New Zealand. However, not every plant can grow everywhere, as you must select plants that grow or can adapt to your region’s climate.

Various variables, from soil moisture to air humidity determine whether a particular plant will grow or wither in your garden. A common mistake gardeners make is to follow the advice from a friend to plant an exotic species that simply won’t grow in their region.

Furthermore, you should adjust the plants to your gardening habits. If you’re an avid gardener and like to spend time in the garden every day, then feel free to get a plant that requires constant watering. If that’s not the case, then a succulent is ideal for an easy-going gardener, as it needs to be watered once a week.

Overwatering the plants

Speaking of watering, the biggest mistake people make is to “add just a bit more water, what could go wrong?” Although your intentions are noble as you wish to give the plant an abundance of sunlight and water, overwatering kills plants!

Namely, the roots of a plant are unable to imbibe that much mater and they start to rot away. This is typically the case with potted houseplants but the problem can just as easily appear in the garden outside. This phenomenon occurs naturally after a heavy downpour when the base of trees becomes swampy.

Roots that are sitting in water puddle aren’t getting enough oxygen, so it is not long before they start wilting. Plants are living beings and they need to breathe just like humans (we can’t breathe underwater either.) Restrain from pouring too much water in the ground surrounding them, as you need to time each watering.

Correct usage of weed killers

Although chemicals aren’t the greenest way to maintain your garden, sometimes they are necessary, like in the case of weeds. Sure, mulching and weeding by hand are useful methods but they use up too much time and money, especially considering the fact there are so many weed killers out there.

However, you have to be careful about how you spread these chemicals. Weed killers are usually sprayed onto plants, so you should perfect your aim. Otherwise, excess toxic chemicals will travel by water and air into other parts of the garden, causing harm to scores of flowers, herbs, and vegetables.

The right amount of mulch

As mentioned earlier, mulching is among the most efficient methods of fighting weeds. However, mulching is more than opening a sack of ready-made mulch and just dispersing it across the garden soil. Like water, you should look to use the proper quantity of mulch to help the soil successfully retain moisture.

One of the most common mistakes is using too much mulch, which in terms prevents the soil from getting enough light, effectively killing all the seedlings in the ground. On the other side, if you use too little mulch, then the soil will become dry, again endangering the seedling underground.

The ideal layer of mulch is around 2 to 3 centimeters when the plants are young. As they mature, you can add a couple of extra centimeters of mulch. As far as the type of mulch is concerned, there is no reason not to use the colorful mulch available at garden centers, as they ate mostly made from bark.

Spatial planning

If you own a single flower pot, you can still call yourself a gardener, as gardening is an excellent way to reduce stress, if nothing else. Size doesn’t matter in gardening but the spatial distribution does. Namely, all plants, from daisies to the sequoia tree need space to grow.

Firstly, you need to clear enough space in the backyard for the garden and select large-enough pots for houseplants. Secondly, don’t make the mistake of placing individual plants too close together, as they will compete for water, minerals from the ground, and sunlight. In general, the bigger the plant, the wider should be the space between them.

The physical location of the garden

Apart from the size, the location of the garden is equally important. Just lie locations sells in the real estate business, so will the garden’s location influence its verdancy. Take into consideration the amount of sunlight different parts of your property get during the year and

When thinking about starting a garden, consider the sunlight your area gets and plant crops that will work well for that amount of light. Furthermore, you should think about the shade created by nearby trees, as some plants like shade, while others prefer direct sunlight.

Finally, the topography of the land will determine the number of water plants receive. Plants in higher places will lose water quickly, so they will require frequent watering. Also, plant the garden close to the house, so you can actually see it from the porch; you know how they say: “out of sight, out of mind.”

The right tools for the job

No garden is complete without the tools you have carefully selected and bought over the course of several years, if not decades. The main rule of shopping is to choose high-quality garden tools that will last a lifetime, preferably. Everything from prune cutters to the trawler should be durable, ergonomic, and fun to use. Furthermore, they should fit the garden shed and be adequate for the size of your garden.

Don’t make the mistake of buying cheap or second-hand tools that will break after just a couple of months of intensive use. Such contractions are not safe to use around the garden, as you apply a lot of force on many of them, such as the weeder or the spade.

Incorrectly prepping garden beds

When starting a garden, soil composure is one of the most important factors in play. It needs to be rich in minerals and nutrients for the plants to grow, so hummus is among the best types of soil for gardens. The only soil that isn’t too dry or too hard will prove ideal for growing seedlings.

If the soil in your garden contains large quantities of clay, sand, and organic matter should be added to the ground. The garden bed must be cultivated in such a way that plants get a chance to firmly establish their roots in the ground.

The importance of crop rotation

When gardeners hear the phrase “crop rotation,” they think of an agricultural method that only applies to farmers. However, crop rotation is important for gardening as much as for farming. Moreover, if you grow your own vegetables and fruits, then you are a subsistence farmer.

If you want to preserve present soil nutrition levels and to renew them over time, then crop rotation is a must. In addition, the method prevents the same plant species from dealing with the same pests/insects that were present in the garden the previous season. Depending on the crops, you can rotate them annually or every three to four years.

Underwatering the plants

We’ve explained earlier the dangers of overwatering the plants but not watering them enough can also be problematic. In most cases, people underwater their plants not because they are lazy or forgetful but because they are unable to tell whether the ground requires more water.

Since it’s often too late to grab a watering can once the pants start wilting, you need a foolproof test to determine whether the soil needs additional watering. The best test is to dig your fingers a couple of centimeters into the ground to inspect whether the soil is wet.

If you feel a dry patch, then it’s watering time. In potted plants, another indicator is the very edge of the soil touching the walls of the pot. If there is the slightest gap, then the soil is definitely starting to dry up.

Too large of a garden

Size doesn’t matter that much in gardening but starting big is not a good solution, especially if you’re new to growing plants. Tending to a garden is time-consuming, so you might be forced to give up on the garden if you crate it too large to start with. It is better to start small and designate a confined patch of land for your first gardening project. Once you grasp the basics after a single season, you are ready to expand the garden in size and plant varieties.

Getting the timing right

Different plants need different conditions to grow in, including the ideal time for planting. In fact, planting too early or too late is among the most frequent mistakes gardeners make. This is because we get recommended an exotic species and wish to plant it right away without considering its planting calendar. If you’re planting a tropical plant, then take into consideration the first and last frost dates in your region, so you can avoid them.

Visiting the garden after dark

If you play your cards right, you will have a verdant and fragrant garden space. It is only normal that you want to show others the backyard garden but this “showing” often happens after dark. That’s why the garden should have a bare minimum of lighting, so it can be used at night.

We recommend using LED solar lights that are placed along pathways or in corners of the garden. The biggest mistake you can make is buying a stronger porch light, as this will blind you without illuminating the entire garden.

Now that you know the most common mistakes gardeners make, you can prepare in advance and hopefully avoid them. Most of these mistakes have to do with an imbalance, whether of minerals, soil composition, water, or sunlight. Gardening is not an extreme sport but a pastime that temperance is the keyword for.


Patrick Adams is a freelance writer and rock-blues fan. When he is not writing about home improvement, he loves to play chess, watch basketball, and play his guitar. More than anything, he loves to spend his time in his garage, repairing appliances and creating stuff from wood.

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