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Home Gardening Mistakes for Beginners

Common Home Gardening Mistakes to Avoid

Today, we learn top home gardening mistakes to avoid for successful gardening. Gardening seems easy in the beginning but there are key things to consider if you want to be successful at it. Even if you have actually good soil and a lot of sunlight, there are still plenty of beginner gardening mistakes you can make that can keep garden from turning out the way you had envisioned it would be.

Here are some of the most common home gardening mistakes & how to avoid them.

Giving plants too little or too much light

This is the common gardening mistake many make during the start of their gardening. There are many reasons why this happens; either people don’t know how much light a plant needs or they basically don’t have a place that gets good light. Either case results in plants not getting the light essential and thus, failing to grow.

For those living in bustling cities, finding the correct place to grow a garden can be quite a challenge. One is often tempted to buy the plants that look beautiful in the plant nursery, without much thought for whether they will be suitable in our rooftop or balcony gardens. Different plants have different light requirements and one can simply choose the right location for them if we remember a few basic rules. Most of the plants that flower annually want a full day’s sun or, at the very least, 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight.

When in a nursery, observing where the plants have been placed will give a clue as to how much light they require. If plants placed in a sunny spot in the nursery, do the same in your garden; and vice-versa.

South-facing balconies get the maximum light, in terms of duration of time and intensity. Next east and west-facing balconies get maximum light. North-facing balconies get least light for the most part of the year. If you are growing vegetables, the best choice is to grow in them in the south, east or west facing balconies.

Leaving out soil amendment

Soil is a living organism, always changing and evolving.  Soil conditions can fluctuate with the rainfall, soil runoff and lack of drainage. Some plants deplete definite soil nutrients more than the others. Heavy rains can leach away the limestone recently added to raise the pH of your broccoli bed.

It pays to check the soil for pH level and mineral profile every growing period and make necessary amendments a few weeks before planting time. Then test again to confirm things are perfect for the plants that are getting ready to go in.

Organic matter has a modulating effect on soil chemistry, so the more humus soil has the lesser the chemical fluctuations. Add plenty of compost and cured manure to vegetable beds. Good soil is particularly very important for your veggies garden since you need healthy plants that produce high-quality food.


Overwatering is killing plants. Frequent watering could be necessary until seedlings and cuttings get established. But once they have developed a good root system, water them at standard intervals.

Watering the Plants.
Watering the Plants.

Read: How to Grow Alfalfa Sprouts in Trays.

The roots of several plants hate sitting in water. Like every other plant tissue, roots want to breathe. They accurately drown if all the air pockets in the soil are filled with water all the time. Even when the topsoil looks dry, the lower layers can be soaking wet. Frequently watered plants remain tender, and wilt easily in the sun. When the interval between subsequent watering is slowly increased, plants toughen up and learn to be survivors.  Though, too much water stress can decrease the yield of some vegetables.

For plants that are planted in the ground, water them well so that the soil is totally wet. For container-grown plants, water the plants till you see some water draining from the drainage holes given in the container. All containers used for potting the plants should have a drainage hole to ensure proper drainage. Water must not stagnate near the roots as stagnant water can deprive roots of oxygen and cause them to rot.

One more important mistake is not watering the plants when you are traveling. In your absence, plants can be watered by using automated drip irrigation systems. One can even improvise a slow drip system out of a pet bottle by creating a hole at the bottom of the bottle. This is one of the most common home gardening mistakes usually everybody does.

Crowding the plants

Knowing the right amount of space to maintain between plants determines the success or failure of a gardening project. This generally happens when budding gardeners start growing plants from seeds.

While sowing seeds, one must consider the space that a grown plant will need. If too many seeds are sown in a container or a pot, they must be reduced to just 1 or 2 based on the size of the container. This method of removing the excess seeds is called ‘thinning.’ Allowing all the plants to grow in a cramped pot will cause deficiencies in the plants and none of them will produce to their full size.


The most regular mistake is overfeeding the lawn or garden. Excess fertilizer is bad for garden plants and the environment. Too much fertilizer can burn a plant’s roots and make the plant more vulnerable to insects and diseases.

Fertilizer includes chemicals that can cause fertilizer burn. Using too much fertilizer can stunt the development of the fruit or bloom. Too much fertilizer can excess the plant with nutrients and chemicals that lead to its demise. Select organic fertilizers and use them sparingly for the best results.

Poor soil preparation

Garden plants will not thrive in dry and nutrient depleted soil.  Be sure to accurately till and loosen the soil before planting. Make sure that it is mixed with some good compost or composted manure as well.

Soil Preparation.
Soil Preparation.

Read: How to Grow Artichokes in Pots.

Planting to depth

Planting too deep or too shallow with certain seeds can source a poor foundation for a plant.  Certain seeds do best when planted at a suitable depth for the type of plant it is.  Generally, the larger the seed, the deeper it must be planted.  However, planting too deep does not allow enough air and sunlight for several seeds to take root and to thrive.

Not mulching

Mulching your garden provides so many advantages; it’s a shame not to do it.  Mulching keeps roots cooler in the heat, holds soil moisture, suppress weeds, protects soil from wind and hard rain, and provides a habitat for all the good organisms that improve your soil quality.

Size of the container

It can sometimes be tricky to choose the right container size for plants. Very often, we end up sowing the seeds for a big plant in a very small container.

Container Plants.
Container Plants.

Read: How to Prepare Garden Seedbed.

Inspect the pot every month or so, to see if there are roots showing up on the soil surface or via the drainage holes in the container bottom. If you see roots peeping out, then it is time to move the plant to a bigger pot or container. Ask for the correct size of the container in the nursery where you buy the plant from.

Letting weeds take over

A garden is not only for the seeds we sow, sometimes we get uninvited guests in the form of weeds and it is very important to be able to tell the difference between the two. Before sowing the seeds for a plant, it is an excellent idea to read up about it and learn more about it.

Removal of weeds has to be completed as early as possible. Leaving the weed to produce in the container will result in the nutrients being eaten away by the unwanted plant. Scout around the garden every day morning and look for weeds.

Some gardeners neglect the weeds in their home garden and this is one of the most common home gardening mistakes one should avoid.

Leaving the plants to the pests

Pests are each gardener’s nightmare. As gardeners, we love very healthy plants and so do pests. By cautiously inspecting the plants every morning, we can detect the pests sooner and get rid of them. Bugs, insects, and caterpillars can be simply controlled when they are identified during their early stages.

Keep insect pests at bay by inspecting crops at least once a week. Take a few minutes and check both the upper and lower surface of the leaves and eliminate any pests you see as soon as possible. Once they get a foothold, it doesn’t take long for insect populations to explode and ruin a complete crop. And keep in mind that most insects attack a particular kind of crop, so if you don’t see any damage on your tomatoes, your squash may be under attack just a few feet away. The good news is that pests can be eradicated by being vigilant and removing the worst offenders by hand. But if you do discover yourself fighting an army of pests, use a biological control that’s safe to spray on food crops.

Spraying the garden plants with organic pesticides such as neem oil will ensure the pests don’t attack the plants in the future.

Planting out-of-season plants

Planting plants that are out-of-season and expecting flowers or fruits will often result in disappointment. This applies to garden plants that are non-native as well. All of us get excited when we see an exotic vegetable and we instantly try to start growing it. While most of them will flourish, there are chances that some cannot grow well as the environmental conditions are totally different.

The average last frost period in Connecticut is mid-to-late May. Don’t be fooled by seeing flowers or vegetables for sale before then; it doesn’t mean it’s safe to plant tender annuals. Check the growing requirements, watch the weather forecast, and when necessary give protection with a cold frame, row cover, or an upside-down paper bag or box.

Hard pruning at the wrong time

Pruning instigates new growth in most plants, those that bear flowers and fruits late in the growing season must be pruned once they have gone into dormancy. Early pruning will create them put out tender shoots that will suffer frost damage.

Spring flowering trees and bushes can be pruned instantly after they have finished the show so that they get a long window to develop new growth before the growing season is over. Maintain a pruning calendar for the plants in the garden to avoid mistakes.

That’s all folks for now about common home gardening mistakes to avoid.

Read: Urban Farming Techniques.


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