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Ten Don’ts for Better Gardening

April 11, 2011

Gardening mistakes happen just as they do with any endeavor. I’ve made plenty of blunders in both the perennial and vegetable gardens. Still, I never give up and it’s my hope that you won’t either. To help you avoid the same gardening errors, here are the most common mistakes made by just about every gardener.

  1. Over watering:  Potted plant roots can drown when over watered. Giving too much water to ground plantings encourages shallow roots stressing the plants. A dry surface doesn’t mean the soil is dry below. Use a water meter or work your finger or a trowel into the soil about six inches to determine if the soil is dry.
  2. Lack of Soil Awareness:  Understanding what type of soil you have and what nutrients it may need is the first step to maintaining healthy plants. Start with a soil test then amend accordingly with organic matter. Enriching the soil with compost before planting, and once or twice a year thereafter will give your plants a healthy start and keep them happy.
  3. Unfamiliar with exposure:  While one planting area may receive eight hours of full sun, another spot only three feet away could get much less. Know each area’s microclimate before choosing suitable plants or trees.
  4. Poor reading habit:  Plant tags tell you if the plant is an annual or perennial, zone, drought tolerate, where to plant, when to plant, maturity size (height and width), proper spacing, light, and water needs.
  5. Wrong placement:  Don’t place shrubs or trees that will grow 30-feet wide only 5-feet from a building or other plantings. Always look up. Are there any utility wires? Check with your local utility company for recommendations and for any underground lines.
  6. Improper Planting:  Placing the base of plants below ground level creates a pool where water can sit around the trunk, rot, and drown roots. To high above the surface and roots are exposed. Holes should be twice as wide with the sides roughed up. The depth should be six inches deeper than the container with a garden soil mixture and organic matter six inches at the bottom.
  7. Improper Mulching:  Mulch helps retain moisture, improves soil structure, and controls weeds but placing mulch too close to trunks is an invitation to root rot, rodents, insects, and disease. Mulch should be at least three inches from the base.
  8. Plants that don’t fit your lifestyle:  If you don’t have the time or simply don’t enjoy pruning, trimming, or deadheading but want an attractive, neat and tidy yard take the time to select low-maintenance plants. Don’t like to rake leaves, avoid deciduous plants and trees. Stay away from shrubs and vines that require weekly pruning or daily watering. Dodge plants that are disease prone.
  9. Container gardening:  Like all vegetation, potted plants need air circulation. Sit pots on risers, available at nurseries or make your own out of 2x4s cut a tad shorter than the pot’s diameter so nobody trips. If your pots are sitting in a saucer, add an inch or two of pebbles.
  10. Impulsive buying:  Avoid it!

Copyright © 2011 Dianne Marie Andre

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6 comments

  1. great info, very helpful…thank you

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  2. 1.Over watering: I overwater.

    2.Lack of Soil Awareness: I don’t know what kind of soil I have.
    3.Unfamiliar with exposure: I’m learning this one.
    4.Poor reading habit: I try to follow the plant tags.
    5.Wrong placement: I take my chances.
    6.Improper Planting: I probably don’t do this correctly.
    7.Improper Mulching: I don’t mulch.
    8.Plants that don’t fit your lifestyle: The easier the care the better. Cactus are good, but need to be watched in the cold weather. I also like ferns and palms and hearty plants that aren’t too much work.
    9.Container gardening: Most of moy containders don’t do too well – not properly drained I think.
    10.Impulsive buying: One of my worst vices – but I generally get bargains that work well for my garden.
    Thanks Dianne, i’ll try to be more careful. good tips. bernadine

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  3. My biggest goof in the garden has been mistakenly planting invasive plants. One of my biggest mistakes was putting in Chinese Lantern seeds.

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