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29 Apr 2022

6 beginner gardening mistakes to avoid

Here’s what not to do so you can make the most of your garden and enjoy the fruits of your labour this spring
Someone planting flowers

Spring has arrived and if you’re new into gardening or feel a bit rusty, here’s some common gardening mistakes that are all too easy to make and some advice on how to avoid them.

Whether it’s choosing the right plant for your garden or when in the year to plant it - we’ve rounded up six common mistakes - plus what you should be doing instead, so you have a little know-how and the confidence to tackle your garden.

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Planting too early in the year

Planting runner beans

Most bedding plants and many of our favourite vegetables, such as runner beans and courgettes, are sensitive to cold temperatures and frost. Unfortunately many garden centres and diy stores offer them for sale before the danger of frost has passed. Frosts will damage or kill the plants, leaving you having to buy new ones to replace them. Check your local weather forecast and don't be tempted to plant too early. Mid-May is when the south of the UK is usually frost-free but it can be as late as June further north.

Planting too closely together

When planting seeds or bulbs, it can be easy to overlook the space each will take up when in bloom.

If you crowd your plants, they will likely suffer from nutrient deficiencies, poor air circulation which can causes diseases, and have to compete for moisture and sunlight. Check the spacing recommendations listed on seed packets or seedling tags and, if necessary, move them as the plants grow.

Planting the wrong plant in the wrong place

Swotting up on plants and finding out what their ideal locations are is imperative to successful growing (and not wasting money). Our plant guides will help you check what soil conditions will suit your plant and whether it'd prefer sun or shade.

If an area of your garden is shaded by trees or buildings or it happens to be north or east-facing, there are still plenty of options if you choose a plant that tolerates shade.

Discover the best plants for shade

Watering at the wrong time of the day

Person using watering can during evening

Watering at the hottest time of the day is counter-productive as it will evaporate. However, it's a myth that water droplets on foliage can act as magnifying glasses for the sun, scorching them. Instead, water your plants either first thing in the morning or last thing at night to help retain the moisture.

Another common mistake is to only lightly spray your plants with water. This often means that the water can't penetrate deep into the soil and ends up dry, only a few millimetres down. Really saturate the soil and concentrate on plants that have been replanted in the last few month as they're still putting down roots into the soil. Pots and baskets need daily watering in sunny weather - push your fingers into the compost and check if it feels dry.

Try our Best Buy hoses and hose guns

Poor weeding

Don’t assume pulling the visible tops of the weed out will have got rid of it for good. 

Many weeds, such as dandelions and thistles, will regrow from any roots left in the soil. Dig out as much as you can and be vigilant for any that start to regrow.

Cutting the lawn too short

Known as ‘scalping’ the lawn. It might be tempting to lower your lawn mower blades and cut your lawn short so you don’t have to worry about cutting it again any time soon. However, this is particularly bad during a dry spell as it will lose its moisture more quickly and you’ll get those tell-tale yellow-brown patches.

Set the blades on their highest setting so you don't scalp the grass. Don't lower them too much over the coming weeks as cutting at a higher height allows daisies and other lawn plants to flower and help pollinators, and the grass is also more likely to stay lush and green if we get any dry spells.

Find out how to cut the perfect lawn