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7 rookie gardening mistakes — and how to avoid them

Gardening is tricky, even for the greenest of thumbs. Set yourself up for success with these tips for first-time planters.
By Sarah Nixon

Rookie Gardening Mistakes

Planting without planning

Choose the right plants for the conditions of your garden. For example, don't plant sun-lovers in a shady spot, and don't plant moisture-lovers in a sandy plot. Do a little research, and your plants will start strong.

7 rookie gardening mistakes — and how to avoid themPhoto, Getty Images.

Letting weeds take root

Weeds are pernicious because they grow quickly with little care. Remove any stragglers before you begin working on your soil, otherwise they'll take over before your plantlings are established. (This is especially vital if you are planting from seeds.)


7 rookie gardening mistakes — and how to avoid themPhoto, Getty Images.
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Forgetting to feed soil

Before you start planting, determine whether your soil is more sandy or clay-based. Then, add organic fertilizer, minerals, trace elements and organic matter (like compost and manures) to create the most hospitable environment for life-giving microorganisms.


7 rookie gardening mistakes — and how to avoid themPhoto, Getty Images.

Disregarding the seasons

In the spring, your garden may get plenty of sun, but look up! If your plot is surrounded by deciduous trees, you could have very different conditions when leaves begin to sprout.


7 rookie gardening mistakes — and how to avoid themPhoto, Getty Images.

Crowding

When planting perennials and shrubs, be sure to give them plenty of room. They may not reach their full size for a few years, but they'll need sufficient space above and below ground for their roots to source water and nutrients, and for foliage to receive enough air exposure to stave off disease. If planted too close together, they could also compromise surrounding blooms with too much shade.


7 rookie gardening mistakes — and how to avoid them
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Leaving too many blank spaces

Once you've planted your shrubs the recommended distance apart, you may find yourself with a lot of bare earth. Fill in the spaces with smaller annuals  before the weeds move in. Bark mulch is also an option.


7 rookie gardening mistakes — and how to avoid themPhoto, Getty Images.

Not watering enough

Newly transplanted seedlings need to be watered often. If you're not getting a lot of rain, you should be watering them every day or two, depending on how hot the weather is. Water gently and be sure to soak the root area thoroughly.


7 rookie gardening mistakes — and how to avoid themPhoto, Getty Images.

Sarah Nixon is an urban flower farmer and floral designer in Toronto. Since 2002 her flower company, My Luscious Backyard, has sustainably grown over 50 varieties of cut flowers in a micro-farm arising in many residential yards in Toronto’s downtown west side. 

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