There are many common gardening mistakes that people make in their outdoor spaces. Do you know what they are?
Errors result in inconvenience; increased workload or even major problems later. As in general life, it’s a good idea to think before you act! Timely effort, planning and paying attention to detail is the way to go.
Avoid these gardening errors - your future will be both easier and more pleasurable.
For example, the lush, green carpet in the picture below is probably what you might hope for in a lawn and the first tip involves mowing grass:
Don’t cut the grass too short.
Many people think that lowering the mower cutters will save them work as they won’t need to trim the lawn so often. In practice, this is probably the number one novice gardening mistake. Cutting low can easily scalp the lawn right down to the soil. This kills off the roots as they can easily be scorched by the sun. Weeds come in and the lawn loses its luxurious green mantle appearance. Oops, why did I do that?
This includes the soil, the sunshine, the shadows and the frost pockets. Make sure you plant appropriate species in conditions that suits them. For example, most ferns and some groundcover such as many Heuchera, prefer shade (pictured below). Some need a fair amount of regular moisture. Don’t set yourself up to fail! Research the right plant for the right place in order to avoid this gardening mistake.
- Avoid over-crowding! Leave enough space between plants when you first put them in. Take note of the ultimate size OR be prepared to thin them out once they are growing. Jumbled species planted too close to each other spoils the shape and visual effect of many plants. It's not a gardening mistake to plant them, but leaving them in a crowded space won't do either yourself or your plants a long-term favour. The rather beautiful cottage gardens pictured below at Great Dixter in East Sussex are meticulously planned to allow space for each species.
- Do plant several of the same species rather than just one. Unless it’s a specimen plant which is meant to be enjoyed individually. This applies in particular to plants that grow upwards rather than outwards. Plant a whole swathe of grasses, for example. Just one Echinacea will be lost on its own – but five or so will make an impact. The Echinacea below are E. 'Butterfly Kisses' (pink) and E. 'Skipper Orange' and they make an exciting combination with their clashing colours. A mini hedge or border edging of lavender makes an aromatic feast for the eyes, and the nose.
- Do water your plants regularly in their first season – and even during the winter if they are new. The roots need time to break out into the surrounding soil so that they can explore for water. Under-watering is the biggest killer of new garden plants and this can be a very costly gardening mistake.
- Don’t be afraid to cut back perennials if they become straggly. Especially during mid-summer. Giving them a trim not only tidies up the space but it also encourages the plants to make more growth and flowers. Some hardy geraniums including the pink Geranium macrorrhizum, tend to spread rapidly and flop around. They, together with many other perennials, benefit from a trim during mid-summer.
- Do keep deadheading. We wait all year for plants to produce flowers but spoil the effect by leaving the spent flower heads on the plant. What happens? The plant puts its energy into making seed rather than giving you more and more flowers. Roses, salvias, geraniums, plants from the daisy family and many more can keep flowering all summer long if you dead head regularly.
- Don’t plant a large tree in a small garden! Your red-leafed Acer platanoides ‘Crimson King’ might look like a dwarf and dainty creature when it’s young, but it will grow to a height of 20 metres or more, with a spread of maybe 15m. This gardening mistake can be avoided - it’s all about reading the label and doing your homework before planting. Did you know that you might have to pay around £900 or more for the removal of a mature tree? The two oaks planted close to the house in the picture below aren't in a great place. One tree is already leaning. Then there are other potential hazards including root damage to foundations of the property; shading of rooms and the possibility of falling branches causing damage or injury. Make an informed decision before you decide to plant a tree that can grow huge.
Of course, there are dozens more gardening mistakes that are frequently made by novices. Trying different things is a rite of passage – but you can certainly help improve your success rate by applying due consideration to tasks before commencement.
Enjoy your garden during the holiday season... and beyond!