The first warm day has us yearning to work in our gardens. But wait! These 8 common garden mistakes will only cause harm to your early endeavors. Avoid them this spring!
8 Common Garden Mistakes to Avoid in Spring
Unfortunately, I’ve made every one of these eager spring mistakes. It puts a bit of a damper on the growing season, especially if it causes you to lose a bit of money or some favorite plants.
But hey, learn from my mistakes, and let’s dive in!
1. Cleaning up the garden too early
Cleaning up the garden too early is one of the most common garden mistakes that will bite you in the butt in a few different ways.
First, by removing protective leaves/mulch, you could have dead seedlings, or seeds that won’t germinate. Removing the protection can also lead to frost-bitten/killed plants or the killing of numerous beneficial insects.
The killing of numerous beneficial insects is the one that hurts the most. And by cleaning up too early, you are doing far more damage than you realize.
Native bees, spiders, caterpillars, butterflies, moths, and so many more beneficial insects often burrow in the leaves and mulch that you want to remove.
They will also hide in the empty stalks of leftover plants and flowers that you hopefully left for them in your flower gardens last year. All these insects are waiting for is spring, so holding off on your flower garden cleaning to about mid-April will be beneficial in more ways than harmful.
This is an excellent time to practice your patience. 🙂
2. Working when the ground is too wet
Working when the ground is too wet isn’t only a mess; it’s harmful to your soil and plants.
Whether you are working in your veggie or your flower garden, you can ruin soil structure by starting too early.
Think of healthy soil like a sponge, full of air pockets and beneficial nutrients. These air pockets allow these nutrients (and water) to flow perfectly.
→ Working too early will cause it to clump up and be impacted by walking or kneeling on it, not to mention packing it down without even realizing you’re doing so.
This dramatically harms our soil and any plant that tries to grow in it!
How to tell if your soil is too wet?
- Grab a clump of it and squeeze.
- Does water drip out of your hand, or is it a muddy mess?
- Then your soil is too wet.
- Check your boots or shoes.
- Are they caked in mud and need to be washed off?
- Your soil is too wet.
- Can you grab a clump of soil without the mess and see most of it fall off your hands or be brushed off easily?
- You’re ready to get to work.
Most common garden mistakes start with us too eager, ending with damage. This is definitely one of them.
3. Weeding too early
Out of all the common garden mistakes in this article, I’ve unfortunately made this one the most. Weeding too early.
Common mistake #3 can cause you to look at your flower gardens later in the season and wonder what happened to all of your daisies or coneflowers.
This has happened to me nearly every year. You’d think I’d learn!
Some perennials or fall-sown seeds come up resembling weeds, and it’s easy to want to get a head-start on all those weeds.
Not only do I wait to weed, unless it’s obvious like a patch of grass in my flowers, but I now have almost everything somehow marked.
Especially my coneflowers and daisies that always look like weeds to me!
4. Planting too early
Oh, those first warm days make us all so excited to get out there and plant! I do get it! And those pretty flowers in the ground might not look like common garden mistakes!
But they are.
Unless you plan on really protecting them and watching your weather very closely.
→What I suggest is that you find your last average frost date and plant closely to that. Then if you DO get a frost or freeze, it’ll only be one or two times.
And if you live in certain parts of the country, you’ll probably even see snow again! Then you can cover your plants and protect them.
If you’re over-zealous, then I suggest starting seeds indoors! You can also purchase hanging baskets and bring them in when necessary.
5. Seedlings planted too close
This is a mistake with vegetable or flower gardens both.
Think of it this way… do you like to be crowded, or are you happy when people outside of your intimate circle invade your personal space?
Uh no. Neither do I.
And neither do your plants or seedlings.
Not only do plants and shrubs need the air circulation around them, but they also don’t need to fight for nutrients in the soil.
When they get bigger, they’ll also need room to grow and spread. Crowding seedlings together is also an invitation to diseases.
Tip: Follow planting suggestions on the back of the seed packet or plant label for best results.
6. Not marking
Not marking where you planted perennials or fall-sown seeds can lead to several common garden mistakes.
You’ll most likely forget where you planted more than half of them (even if you think you’ll remember) and make any one of the following mistakes:
- Pulling them up as weeds
- Growing other things too close or on top of existing plant
- Placing rocks, birdbaths, or any other decor on top of them
- Mowing them
It really pays to mark your plants while they are blooming away or after you fall-sow.
I either put a popsicle stick on the area or place wiring around it.
7. Not starting seed indoors
I know starting seed indoors isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay, but I feel it’s so beneficial to at least try!
Not only do you get a head start, but you can begin growing early in the season if you have the gardening bug or miss taking care of your plants.
Some flower/plant packets even suggest starting indoors before your average last frost date.
So while this may not be a genuine mistake, I definitely feel it can be added to the common garden mistakes list. Because if you’re not starting seeds early, you’re missing out!
8. Not hardening off indoor seedlings
If you put your heart into starting seeds inside and did everything right, not hardening them off before you plant them in the ground is definitely not good!
Common garden mistakes are often made due to lack of knowledge, so we’ve all been there, but please do take the time to get your seedlings ready before planting them in the ground!
The tried and true method I use to hardening off seedlings is as follows:
- When it’s warm enough outside, take your seedlings and place them in the shade or very lightly sun-dappled area for a couple of hours.
- Do this daily, adding an hour or two each time.
- Each day, place them in an area with a bit more sun, this has to be gradual, or they’ll burn or wilt! (Remember to add the sun only according to their care. You won’t expose shade-loving plants to full sun just to “harden them off.”)
- Do this for at least 7-10 days until your seedlings are hardened off and used to the elements.
- You’ll want to watch for soil dryness as they will dry out quickly outside.
- You’ll also want to watch for seedlings in distress (wilting, burning, falling over) and bring them in immediately and water if needed.
- Also, watch out for animals, birds, or insects because your seedlings are very fragile right now.
Learning common garden mistakes by trial and error are bound to happen, but knowing beforehand is a money, plant, and sanity saver! You will also be helping the environment by following some of these steps!
I hope this has been helpful in your endeavors to have a successful garden this year! Happy planting!
Which of these common garden mistakes have you made before? Please comment below and share your story! 🙂