It is the perfect time of year to get on with some gardening, as we enjoy the warmer days and light evenings. However, not everyone is naturally green fingered, and sometimes our best intentions can go wrong when it comes to the great outdoors. Here are some common mistakes that novice gardeners often make, and how to avoid them!

Overwatering plants

Watering our plants can give us that satisfactory feeling that we are nurturing nature, and will be rewarded with healthy abundant blooms in the near future. However, often we are actually suffering from a case of overenthusiasm, and may be damaging the plants with too much water. This is because the roots become waterlogged, and don’t get enough oxygen.

How often should you water garden plants? This depends of how much rainfall you have, which varies for the different regions of the UK. In general, Northern and Western areas tend to be wetter, and Eastern and Southern areas drier, especially in the summer. In areas of average rainfall, watering garden plants once a week should be fine.

Planting too close

It can be tempting to pack those seeds and cuttings close together, to try and fill up bare patches of soil, and avoid waste. However, this can be counterproductive. Too many plants crammed in together will be fighting for nutrients and moisture as the roots begin to spread. This will impair the growth of the plants, meaning they may look straggly and limp.

Always follow the planting instructions on the label or packet, which will usually recommend planting several centimetres apart. This will result in bigger healthier blooms.

Over or under feeding

Novice gardeners may assume that all a plant needs to grow is soil, water, and a sunny or shady spot in the garden. However, plants need a range of nutrients to reach peak condition, which aren’t always available in the soil. You can buy commercially prepared plant food, but experts warn against using this too frequently.

This is because too much fertiliser interferes with the plants ability to absorb nutrients from the soil, and makes them more prone to disease and pests. It is much better to add compost and mulch to the soil, and let nature do the work for you.

Not planting native species

Non-native species of flowers, shrubs, and trees are OK in small quantities. However, most of them carry little or no pollen that attracts bees and other pollinators to the garden.

Our native wildlife has evolved over thousands of years to use our native plants as a source of shelter, food, and the plants rely on insects to carry pollen between them, in order to propagate. Therefore, native species are essential to maintain biodiversity levels and to promote a healthy ecosystem.

Pollinators also do a lot of the work for you in the garden, by aiding plants to reproduce. Even growing a simple herb garden in patio containers, with lavender, rosemary, thyme, and fennel, can help to make a difference.

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