Top 6 Gardening Mistakes and Pitfalls

April 22, 2024

gardening mistakesAs natural landscaping experts, we come across many mistakes made in the garden. We have compiled a list of 6 common gardening mistakes and pitfalls.

1. Poor Planning

The most important word for planning a project is just that — planning. When designing a landscape, it is generally best to start with the basics.  What is the exposure?  Are any hardscapes (paved areas like streets and sidewalks) involved or when will they be constructed?  What kind of plants do you want?  Are they compatible with the site?  Are the plants suggested hardy in your zone?  What kind of soil do you have?  Does the soil need to be amended?  What does your soil need?  These are a few of the many questions to ask yourself before digging.

Pathway to the lawn

2. Planning for Only One Season

In the planning process, it’s important to include the entire calendar year. Do you want to spend hours creating a garden that looks lovely in the spring, only to find that it is void of interest in the fall and winter? Take time to consider how your garden will look in every season and plan accordingly.

Having sequential bloom is ideal. Trees, shrubs, perennials, and bulbs have a variety of bloom times, and, believe it or not, you can find plants in bloom almost every month. We tend to think of flowers blooming in the spring and summer, but a whole host of plants give us pleasure at other times of the year. In addition to bloom time, we look for fruit, fall color, and bark variation. Winter has very different tones from summer; however, they can be just as majestic.

When choosing plants, consider the plant hardiness zone you live in. Stores will usually indicate what a plant’s best “hardiness zone” is. Delaware, Chester, and Montgomery County are zone 7a and 7b. The complete 2012 hardiness zone map produced by the US Department of Agriculture can be found here.

3. Failure to Accommodate for Slopes

Another key to designing and implementing a beautiful garden improvement project is to work with topography and geology. If your property has a steep hill, you cannot simply plant without addressing the issues inherent in the grade of the land. Before any planting, determine if you need the addition of a retaining wall or boulders to hold the soil.

stone landscape and water mitigation

4. Failure to Accommodate for Different Soil

Who thinks about soil before they plant it? In fact, it’s a really important consideration. For example, if your soil is sandy, it will drain well and possibly too quickly. Sandy soil lacks the nutrients of richer soils. Loam is great for Rhododendrons and Azaleas, but Lavender won’t thrive. The type of soil you have will dictate which plants will work best in your design.

5. Use of Plants Susceptible to Deer and Rodents

Here in Southeastern Pennsylvania, we have a lot of deer who love to munch on many different plants. They are willing to dine on almost anything when they are hungry. Many “deer-resistant” plants exist, but there is no guarantee that they will work. Not even deer fencing is 100% effective. At some very large properties, the fences designed to keep deer out have actually enclosed whole herds of them.

At Naturescapes, we choose plants that are as deer resistant as possible. For example, we don’t plant tulips because we know deer love their blooms. In addition, squirrels and other rodents will also snag the bulbs before winter for a tasty meal.

6. Failure to Account for Plant Growth

Take into account how large the plant will grow. Its growth pattern is usually mentioned on the tags. A dwarf plant will grow to two-thirds the size of its straight species parent. Remember, overall growth includes height as well as breadth. So, plant a spreading Yew far from the pathway, so that you don’t have the urge to chop its beautiful branches as time goes on. Many builders and homeowners tend to plant too close to buildings, so there’s not enough room for them to grow. In the beginning, you may think your garden looks a little sparse. Give it time to grow into itself just as you would a small child.

Front garden design by Naturescapes

Avoid Mistakes When You Work With Professionals

These are a few things to consider in planning your garden project. All of these are key components in every project done with Naturescapes, allowing us to create landscapes that fit our customers’ needs and remain beautiful all year long. We get great pleasure out of helping our customers learn about their gardens.

If you’ve already started a project and find yourself overwhelmed, please contact us. We are professional landscape designers and installers who can help transform your vision into a reality.

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