It’s a good idea to look to experienced gardeners for advice if you are just beginning gardening. Why? Because you can learn from their mistakes!
All gardeners make mistakes. And over the years, you will, too. But you can jumpstart your gardening success now by taking steps to avoid some of the more commonly-made gardening mistakes.
Let’s take a look!
10 Common Gardening Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Gardening for beginners should be about having fun and seeing what you can grow. By avoiding these common gardening mistakes, you will be well on your way to creating a thriving garden.
Using Native Soil for Starting Seeds
Why buy potting soil for seed starting when you could use dirt from the backyard? Your plants are eventually going to be placed in that same soil anyway.
The problem with using native soil (or soil from your yard) to start seeds is that most of us have densely compact soil. It doesn’t drain well and it doesn’t contain the nutrients that young seedlings need to thrive.
Even easy-to-grow plants require just the right balance of moisture, oxygen, and drainage for their seeds to sprout. Plus, you’ll likely have to deal with weeds when using native soil, too.
So what should you use for starting seeds? A potting mix containing compost, coir, and perlite will make for an excellent seed starting medium.
And since you are just beginning gardening, you shouldn’t need to invest in a large amount of potting mix to get started. A little bit goes a long way when it comes to starting seeds.
Failing to Amend Your Garden Soil
Garden soil is the foundation for growing a thriving garden. Healthy soil not only increases your harvest, but it makes your plants more resilient when disease, drought, and pests become a problem.
Most people have dirt, rather than actual soil, in their yards. Compared to soil, dirt is dry, lifeless, and lacking in nutrients. By amending the soil, you can add nutrients and structure to better support your plants.
To get started, pick up a soil test kit from your local garden center. Testing your soil will help you understand what it is lacking. Common ways to amend the soil include:
- Add compost
- Water with a compost tea
- Add manure
- Add plant material (like grass clippings)
- Grow cover crops
- Add worm towers
Amending your garden soil is one of the best things you can do for your garden. You may have to use a combination of these techniques over several seasons to get your garden soil in shape. But, it’s well worth the effort.
Gardening without a Plan
Garden planning is one of the best things new gardeners can do to ensure success. Without a well-thought-out garden plan, you can run into several different problems.
First, garden planning helps you visualize what you want to create. If you just start planting, you won’t have a clear idea of what will go where and things might start to get too crowded.
Garden planning also helps you determine which plants will work best for your area. One thing gardeners need to think about before planting is how much light their growing space receives throughout the day.
Growing shade-loving vegetables in a sunny spot will result in shriveled-up plants. Garden planning helps you figure out all of these little details.
But how do you start planning if you are new to gardening? Check out these garden planning tips to get started today.
Having Your Water Source Too Far Away
As a new gardener, it’s easy to think that you’ll do anything it takes to make sure your garden thrives. And you definitely should!
But carrying heavy buckets of water from a good distance away (sometimes multiple times a day) will quickly kill your motivation. In hotter climates and full sun gardens, watering twice a day isn’t out of the ordinary.
So before you start planting, think about your garden’s site and where the nearest water source is located. Consider moving your garden closer to a water source if hauling watering cans across the yard is the only way for you to water your plants.
If that’s not possible (and even if it is), be sure to mulch around your plants to help the soil hold moisture. You’ll also want to group plants with similar water requirements together to make caring for your plants easier for you.
If necessary, there are many advanced ways to improve the water in your garden including rain barrels, irrigation, swales, and other techniques for getting more water to your garden.
Not Following Planting Zone Recommendations
It’s easy for gardeners at any level of experience to want to grow everything. It’s just in our nature!
But, plants require specific growing conditions. Some plants do better in hot and humid conditions, while others prefer milder weather.
The good news is that determining which plants will grow best in your area is simple. The USDA Hardiness Zone Map can guide you in choosing plants fit for your climate.
As a new gardener, you want to do everything you can to make your garden a success. Choosing plants fit for your area is a step in the right direction!
Choosing Plants Because the Seed Packets are Pretty
It’s never a good idea to grow plants just because of the seed packaging. Seed packets are designed to catch your attention, just like everything else in a store. Be mindful of this.
When you are just beginning gardening, it’s better to be picky about choosing plants to grow. If you don’t enjoy eating it and don’t have plans to use it for medicinal purposes, you’ll be less likely to take care of your plants when life gets busy.
Instead of picking plants based on the seed packets, think about the food and herbs you often buy. If these plants grow well in your area, then these are the plants you should start growing in your garden.
Trying to Learn Too Much at Once
From starting seeds to knowing when to harvest, there are many different aspects of gardening for beginners to discover. But trying to learn about too many gardening topics at once will leave you feeling overwhelmed and unsuccessful.
In your first few seasons, you’ll only scratch the surface of what there is to know and do in the garden. And that’s okay.
As a beginner gardener, you should take your time getting to know the plants and your growing space. Think of gardening as a practice you’ll build on year after year rather than one that you have to know everything about before you begin.
When it comes to gardening, keeping it simple is always your best bet!
Making Your Garden Way too Big
Most experienced gardeners are guilty of making their first gardens way too big. Sadly, this is one reason many people quit gardening.
Trying to maintain a big garden before you are ready leads to burnout. And, that’s what we want to avoid.
Think realistically about how much time and energy you will have for gardening. When will you water your plants, and when will you pull weeds, check for pests, and collect your harvest?
You don’t have to stick to any pre-planned schedule that you make now. But thinking through these future tasks can help you plan more realistically.
Having a garden that you have time to sit back and enjoy is much better than having to work endlessly just to maintain it. Plus, a small garden is perfect for learning the ropes!
Not Having a Plan for Common Pests and Plant Diseases
Many new gardeners don’t spend enough time planning for pests and plant diseases to strike their gardens.
Pests and diseases can take over quickly, which is why it’s important to know what you might come up against. Your best bet is to do a little research on the plants you want to grow.
- Are there any well-known diseases or pests that these plants often fall prey to?
- What recommendations can you find on how to counteract these problems?
- What all-natural spray will you use to ward off pests or diseases?
It sounds like a complex gardening topic. But with a little planning, you’ll be ready to tackle any common disease and pest issues.
Failing to Protect Your Garden from Pets and Livestock
The minute your dog runs through the yard and straight into the garden, you’ll wish you had built a fence to keep him out. And the same thing goes for livestock.
After working hard to plan and prepare for a garden, the last thing you want is for your plants to be ruined by your own pets. Consider adding a fence around your garden to protect it from your furry friends.
If you are just beginning gardening, don’t get hung up trying to get everything just right. Take your time. Learn what you can. And remember, there’s always next season!
Garden with Ease
Now you know how to avoid ten common gardening mistakes. As a new gardener, you are that much closer to growing a thriving garden.
That being said, you will probably make other mistakes. There will always be ways to improve when it comes to gardening. But, if you can learn to see mistakes as part of the process, you’ll have a lot more fun.
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Which of these gardening mistakes will you be sure to avoid this season?