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15 Common Gardening Mistakes To Avoid

The prospect of nurturing a small seed into a flourishing plant, yielding food for your kitchen table, is undeniably gratifying. The journey from seed to harvest is a source of satisfaction and a delightful effort that promises a sense of accomplishment. Here are some common gardening mistakes to avoid when you start gardening.

Many mistakes could be avoided if you keep a garden journal. At the end of the season, you can plan next year’s garden, knowing what worked and what didn’t.

healthy spring vegetables.
Image credit: Backyard Garden Lover.

1. Planting in the Wrong Area

Dry ornamental grass in a flower garden.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos

Even when you know the new plant will grow in your garden zone, you may have problems if you plant it in the wrong area of your yard (or with the wrong companions).

For example, some plants may get too much water, while others are getting too little because you planted them into the same container or flower bed, even though they had different watering requirements.

2. Letting Weeds Get Out of Control

Baby squash surrounded by weeds.
Photo Credit: Backyard Garden Lover

Most gardeners are unaware that weeds can sap water and nutrients from the soil, effectively starving your plants and flowers. Some weeds grow pretty tall and then steal sunlight from your veggies. So, keeping these under control goes a long way towards ensuring your garden can thrive.

Here’s how to get rid of weeds for good!

3. Not Deadheading or Pruning

A woman's hands deadheading a rose bush.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos

Some gardeners are afraid to do anything they feel may hurt their flowers, shrubs, and vegetables. So when they see a dead flower or branch, they hesitate to snip it off because they worry they’ll somehow hurt the plant, causing it to die. The truth is that getting rid of dead flowers and branches actually makes your plants and flowers healthier.

Here are some pruning guides:

4. Overwatering/Underwatering

water spraying out o a blue watering can.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos

Both are bad for your garden. Regularly check soil moisture, ensure proper drainage, and water plants when needed if you want your plants to thrive.

5. Planting Too Deep or Not Deep Enough

a hole ready for planting a tree.
Photo Credit: Backyard Garden Lover

Planting seeds too deep can prevent them from germination while planting too shallow might dry and damage the new seedlings. If you plant seedlings, planting too deep will suffocate the roots, while planting too close to the surface will prevent the plant from accessing moisture.

6. Ignoring Sunlight Requirements

sunflowers with the sun setting in the background.
Photo Credit: Backyard Garden Lover

Neglecting to consider the specific sunlight requirements of plants can result in stunted growth and diminished overall health. Different plants have different sunlight needs; plant accordingly.

7. Using Poor-Quality Soil

poor quality soil.
Photo Credit: Backyard Garden Lover

Invest in good-quality soil for healthier plants. If the soil lacks nutrients, plants may not grow as tall or produce as many leaves or fruits as they would in nutrient-rich soil. They may also look sickly with yellowing or brown leaves due to nutrient deficiencies or toxicity.

8. Neglecting Mulching

Freshly mulched hydrangea shrub.
Photo Credit: Backyard Garden Lover

Mulch helps retain moisture and suppress weeds. It also gives your garden a finished look. Don’t skip it.

9. Overcrowding Plants

green onions
Photo Credit: Backyard Garden Lover

Give plants enough space to grow and avoid competition for resources. It also helps you keep weeds under control easier since you can move around the plants freely.

10. Planting Invasive Species

honeysuckle flowers.
Photo Credit: Backyard Garden Lover

Research and avoid planting invasive plants that can harm local ecosystems. Instead, get a list of your state’s native plants and use it to help you choose plants that will thrive in your environment.

11. Neglecting Pest Control

squash bug eggs.
Photo Credit: Backyard Garden Lover

Regularly inspect plants for pests and take preventive measures. It’s a lot easier to prevent a pest invasion than to deal with the consequences of infestation, which can lead to damaged crops, weakened plants, and the need for more extensive and potentially harmful pest control measures.

12. Planting Incompatible Species Together

Cute white statue in the asparagus bed, and a head of garlic.
Photo Credit: Backyard Garden Lover

Some plants just don’t like growing next to each other, either because of different water or sunlight requirements or because of common diseases. Consider companion planting for better growth.

13. Overlooking Plant Height

flowers climbing on the garden fence.
Photo Credit: Backyard Garden Lover

Be aware of how tall plants will grow to avoid shading smaller ones so that they get the proper sunlight, and you get to see the pretty flowers you planted.

14. Not Labeling Plants

A label for a new tree we planted.
Photo Credit: Backyard Garden Lover

Labeling plants helps you remember what’s planted where and ensures you can easily track each plant’s specific care requirements, preventing confusion and enhancing the overall management of your garden space.

15. Not Learning From Your Mistakes

Lavender field at sunset.
Photo Credit: Backyard Garden Lover

We all make mistakes; as long as we learn from them, they are not wasted. Reflect on last year’s gardening challenges and adjust your approach for future success.

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Adriana Copaceanu is a passionate nature lover living in the country on her dream property where she grows vegetables, lavender, and wildflowers that she shares with the wildlife they attract. When she's not in the garden, she loves spending time with her chickens and planning her next nature project. Check out her books below:

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