8 Common Gardening Mistakes Every Plant Lady Needs to Know

By now we’ve seen enough rampant weeds and killed enough pretty plantings (sorry, little guys) to know which common gardening pitfalls can be downright disastrous. Here, the eight heaviest hitters of all—and how to not fall prey to them in your own patch of paradise.

The 30 Best Gardening Tips of All Time

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1. Planting Too Early

We know, we know—it can be tempting to get those bulbs in the ground the first day the temps soar above 60 degrees. But plants need thawed-out, soft soil to grow their roots. Not to mention, a late season frost can totally—and easily—wipe ‘em out. (Psst: You can check your local last "frost dates” here.)

woman planting lettuce
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2. Crowding Your Plantings Together

Like siblings in a bunkroom, plants need personal space or they’ll suffocate each other (or subject each other to disease). Don’t eyeball your spacing or take your best guess: Do your research, and pay attention to the recommended spacing requirements on plant labels.

woman planting bulbs
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3. Not Digging A Big Enough Hole For Bulbs

See above, guys, same deal. Bulbs and root balls need room to grow downward as well. A good rule of thumb: Dig a hole that’s twice as wide and deep as the baby plant going inside it. (If their womb is too small, they’ll resist growing into the soil and their growth will be stunted.)

flowers full sun
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4. Picking The Wrong Spot

This is a simple one to follow: Do not disregard the sun designation on your plant labels. If your evergreens are labeled as shade plants, yup, they need to be planted under the shade of your tree. If labeled as full sun, they need constant exposure. Don’t test their limits because you think those begonias would look better in the southern corner of the yard.

woman watering flowers
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5. Overwatering

We all know that under-watering your plants is a major no-no—but overwatering can be just as dangerous. See, when soil gets waterlogged, it quickly rots a plant’s root system, and once that know the rest. Check your soil before a big watering and aim for one long weekly soak on average (pending your rain conditions).

woman mulching garden
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6. Getting Lazy With Mulching

We know, it’s an extra step, and it isn’t as charming as planting those new petunias, but mulch is literally your BFF. It smothers weeds, protects plants from bacteria and critters, attracts pollinators, prevents erosion and feeds your soil. Use it amply, and your garden will thank you.

woman tilling soil
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7. Ignoring Soil Conditions

Guys, if you plant your new perennials in unhealthy soil, no number of gardening best practices will make them thrive. Make sure your soil is moist, loose and well fed before you plant. (Till the soil, and be sure to feed it some good compost as well.)

deer in garden
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8. Ignoring Furry Friend Concerns

Fact: Critters love to eat and/or tear up gardens. So before your beautiful new tulips become a chipmunk’s dinner, take into account which animals spend time in your yard, and do your research on the best ways to keep them out. (Fences, netting, shrubs, bitter plantings—they’re all your friends.)


Home Editor

From 2014-2019 Grace Beuley Hunt held the role of Home Editor covering interior design, styling, trends and more.