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Trying to create your garden of dreams but not quite getting it right? Several common mistakes could be preventing your garden from thriving. From not watering your borders properly to poor-quality soil, these elements can all lead to limp or even dying plants. Don’t worry, they’re easy to spot and rectify.
Most common gardening mistakes:
- Too much (or too little) water
- Poor soil quality and preparation
- Improper plant selection
- Poor maintenance
- Incorrect light levels for specific plants
- Not giving plants enough height or space to grow
Too much (or too little) water…
To keep them thriving, your plants need to be watered regularly. It’s vital you don’t under or over water your garden. The most common gardening mistake is when plants get too much or too little water, they may be starved of oxygen, leading them to become dull and brown and eventually die.
Your plants start to use up their stored water as the sun comes up so it’s best to water them in the morning. This helps make sure they have plenty of water for the hottest part of the day and means the soil won’t be damp, attracting pests like slugs during the evenings. It’s not a good idea to water during the day as a lot of the moisture will be lost to evaporation.
When it comes to how often to water, this will depend on the plant species, location and weather. Leafier plants are likely to need more water, as are those growing in direct sunlight. Also, plants that have restricted roots – such as in a pot or tight border – will require more water.
Here are a few signs that your plants need more water…
- Wilting foliage
- Less foliage than expected
- Dull, dry leaves
- Pots becoming lighter and even blow away.
Ready to water? Water is taken in under the ground via the roots, so plants should be watered directly at the base. It’s important to avoid the leaves – water will evaporate from the surface and can create a humid condition, which could in turn lead to a fungal problem.
If you struggle with time to water your plants, there are several methods you could employ. Self-watering pots are perfect if you forget to water often. Another thing you could try is a sprinkler system that you can set to come on automatically.
Poor soil quality or preparation…
Another common gardening mistake made by gardeners is not checking soil quality. Planting in good quality soil is vital as soil stores water, helping to keep your plants thriving. Poor-quality soil will make it harder for your plants to get water and will hinder the growing process, and also lacks the necessary vitamins and nutrients to ensure your plants grow healthily.
To check your soil quality, you can send away a sample for pH testing to ensure it has exactly what your borders need to thrive. If you’d rather check for yourself, there are things to look out for.
Healthy soil will have…
- A crumbly texture
- A dark brown or black colour
- Plenty of bugs or organisms.
You can buy shop-bought soil that’s already enriched with nutrients to top up your borders or your potted plants. For your own ground soil, you can try adding mulch or fertiliser to enrich it. To save on spending, you could even start your own composter by saving organic waste from the kitchen, collect this over time in a dark compost bin and then scatter over your soil to feed it with good stuff.
Top tip: Before you start planting, it’s worth giving your ground soil a good rake over. Use a spade or fork to dig up, toss and disperse soil – this loosens any clumps, helping with drainage when you do plant. It also helps to identify and remove any weeds or pests.
Improper Plant Selection…
What some less green-fingered folks forget to consider is choosing appropriate plants. Unfortunately, not all plants will thrive in our climate, to give them a fighting chance, it’s better to choose species that are hardened to the British seasons and soil. Species such as bluebells, marigolds and primrose have all grown in Britain for years. This means they have adapted to our climate and earth and have what it takes to prosper.
It's worth doing some research before you begin planting your garden. Look up plant species that have already adapted to the British climate and that are in season for the time you are planting them.
You should also consider your outdoor space. Do you have lots of direct sunlight? Is your garden mainly shaded? Will you plant directly into the ground? Or will you create raised flower beds? All these factors will feed into which plants you should and shouldn’t attempt to cultivate.
If you want to enjoy a lush garden, it’s not as easy as planting your bulbs and walking away. Your garden will need proper maintenance to keep it healthy and looking glorious.
Depending on which species you plant, you may need to factor in time for pruning. By cutting off dead heads and stems, you let the healthier parts of the plant access all of the water, encouraging stronger growth. You may also need to consider fertilising. You can do this with homemade compost or bought feed or manure. This will ensure your borders and pots get all the nutrients they need to grow. You’ll also want to regularly weed your grass and borders and keep an eye on potential pests.
To keep your garden ticking over, it’s worth creating a schedule. This could be a season-to-season reminder of what needs doing in the garden at the end of each month, including sowing and harvesting.
Now that you know commonly made gardening mistakes, you can look at your own outdoor space. Recognise areas of weakness and where you could improve your green-fingered skills. Then, implement changes to get your garden growing. All these mistakes are easy to rectify, so you can enjoy a healthy, happy garden – grown using your expertise – in no time.