Everyone makes mistakes when they start out gardening, however there are some basic errors you need to avoid.
Learning to be a good gardener is not something you can just do in a day it takes time and practice.
Many of the tips and skills gardeners develop come through many years of trial and error. Here are some basic ones to avoid making:
Bad watering habits
You will be surprised how many people do not know how to water plants correctly. It is one of the most basic skills of gardening but it has to be done properly.
Obviously if plants aren’t watered enough they’re going to die, but similarly if they get too much it will rot the roots which will also cause them to perish.
Another error is watering plants whilst they are in full sunlight, as any water that gets on the leaves will cause the foliage to burn.
Top tips: 1) When you buy a plant check how much water it needs. 2) Wait until the plants are not in full sun when you water. 3) Plant a ‘tester’ plant that you know requires a lot of water, like a hydrangea, as soon as it starts to wilt you know your garden needs watering.
Many novice gardeners think they can simply dig a hole in the ground, bung in a plant and everything will be fine.
Different parts of the country have different soil compositions, for instance rich in sand, clay, chalk etc. Some plants will thrive naturally in these different areas, others won’t.
Before any planting takes place the soil needs to be prepared thoroughly and depending on what you plan to plant this may involve changing the make up of the soil completely.
Top tips: 1) Always read what quality soil plants want, rhododendrons for example like a lime free, well drained soil. 2) Always thoroughly dig over any planting beds, give it a good covering with compost then dig that in as well.
Wrong plant, wrong place
Some plants love the sun, others thrive in the shade so getting the right place for a plant is essential.
Top tip: Have a look online to check which position your plant will love, or ask the people you buy it from.
Too many plants too close together
Plants need plenty of space to grow, not only so that the garden looks tidy and well balanced but also so that not too many plants are competing for the same nutrients.
Also think about layering plants when arranging them so that taller plants will not cut the light to smaller grown level plants.
Top tip: The key to this is future planning. Always keep in the mind’s eye what the garden is GOING to look like and not what it looks like this very minute.
Getting the right fertiliser is essential, but equally important is getting the amount right. Plants can suffer terribly from both over and under fertilisation.
Also never mix and match when it comes to fertilising your plans, as different products have formulas designed for different plants. What’s more never mix different fertilisers together – the results could be disastrous.
Top tip: It never hurts to do some reading into what fertiliser is best for your garden, and always follow the instructions. After all they are there for a reason.
This is a really common mistake to make as different types of bulbs require to be planted in different directions.
Planting bulbs the wrong way will cause growth to be delayed as the roots try to find the correct way down. The bulb will use so much energy doing this it could fail to thrive.
Top tip: When you buy bulbs make sure to check which direction they need to be planted. If there is no documentation do some research online first.
Mistaking plants for weeds
Some plants when they start germinating have an uncanny resemblance to weeds, so mistaking them and pulling them up is an easy error to make.
It’s also very easy to forget where you have planted things if you have sowed them from seed.
Top tip: Use markers so you know where things have been planted, if you don’t have any proper markers use old ice-lolly sticks.
by Chris Bonnett, owner of online garden centre GardeningExpress.co.uk
If you have any good gardening tips for the novice gardener please do post them here, or email them to us at email@example.com. Ed.