Here are the top 10 most common mistakes we see from beginner gardeners:

  1. Not investing enough in their soil-Our desire for instant gratification means that we have a tendency to want to buy the bigger, more beautiful plant. People use up most of their gardening budget when buying the plants, then don’t want to spend even more money buying quality soil. Spend a little less money on plants and more money amending your soil and buying a good quality potting soil for your pots. Don’t skimp on your soil!
  2. Planting too deep-One of the fastest ways to kill a plant is by planting it too deep. The general rule is to keep it at the exact same depth that it is growing in its pot. Putting a layer of soil on top of the roots is not only unnecessary, but it can starve the roots of oxygen and kill the plant (tomato plants are the exception).
  3. Choosing plants that are not adapted to your area-When people move to a different city or state, they try to plant what they had success with in their previous area. Always consult with your local independent retail nursery to see what works and what doesn’t. There is much more to consider than just hardiness zones (pH, Humidity, heat, etc.) Many chain stores carry the same plant selection across multiple state lines. Just because you see a plant at a store in your city, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will grow in your area.
  4. Not considering the mature size of that plant-Red Oak trees can get as big as 50 feet wide and tall, yet I see people planting them too close to their houses, other trees, or under power lines. Red Tipped Photinias can easily reach 20 feet tall, so planting them in front of windows will either result in them blocking your view or trimming them every two weeks during the growing season. There is a plant for nearly every situation. Do your research and save yourself a lot of future headaches.
  5. Improper pruning-Very few plants are meant to be shaped or trimmed as hedges. Most will be much more beautiful with just minimal pruning. Pruning an Indian Hawthorne at the wrong time of the year will cause you to miss their beautiful blooms. “Topping” a Crape Myrtle will forever ruin the shape of that plant. Not everything needs to be squares and circles. Research each plant that you have, and try to prune them into a naturally beautiful form.
  6. Watering the leaves of your plants-Plants do not absorb water through the leaves. If your plant is thirsty, water the roots. Fungus issues can be prevented by keeping the leaves dry. You can water your lawn with a sprinkler, but a drip irrigation system or a soaker hose is a better option for trees and shrubs. Side note: Watering in the morning is better than watering in the evening because it will allow the sun to dry the leaves off.
  7. Fertilizing too little or too much-Many flowering plants need fertilizer in order to keep blooming, other plants may not ever need to be fed. Ask a nursery professional about which plants will need to be fertilized and make sure that you use a quality slow-release fertilizer.
  8. Waiting too long to address a sick plant-Typically, plants don’t just die overnight. They will give you signs showing you that they are stressed (droopy leaves, yellowing or browning leaves, defoliation, or spots on the leaves- just to name few.) The damage may be reversible, but time is of the essence. Instead of waiting to see if it will get better, at the first sign of trouble, take pictures or a cutting of the affected area and show it to your local nursery professional. It may be an issue that requires immediate action, or it may be part of the plant’s normal life-cycle. However, once it’s dead there’s nothing you can do to bring it back.
  9. Not thinking about sun exposure-Plants that need full sun typically need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. Certain shade plants cannot tolerate even a few minutes of direct afternoon sunlight without getting damaged. If your flowerbed is partially shaded by a large tree, make sure that you choose plants that can tolerate both sun and shade.
  10. Watering too much or too little-The symptoms of a plant that is too wet are nearly identical to those of a plant that is too dry. The best way to know the difference is to feel the soil below ground level. Your soil should never be soggy for an extended period of time, and it is ok to let your plants dry out a little between watering times. You can’t water according to a calendar; you must let the weather dictate your watering schedule. Hot and windy conditions will require you to water more frequently.

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