39 Garden Bloggers Share Their Biggest Mistakes

top garden bloggers share garden mistakes

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As gardeners, we love to huddle up (virtually and in person) to swap tricks, tips, favorite plant varieties and yes…even our mistakes. No matter how many years we’ve been gardening each season there are total failures, pledges of doing better next year, and times when we ask ourselves, “Why did I do that? I should know better.”

One of my favorite quotes about mistakes comes from the book, The Vegetable Gardener’s Guide to Permaculture“In the garden there are no mistakes, just lessons pointing you towards better solutions.”

It’s in the spirit of this quote that I invited 38 top garden bloggers to gather together to reflect upon and share their garden bloopers by answering this question:

What’s the biggest mistake you made when you started gardening?

With enough distance, if we’re lucky, life allows us to laugh at our blunders and missteps. You’ll find a lot of humor in the following reflections, and you might even discover a glimpse of yourself!

 

Shawna CoronadoShawna Coronado ShawnaCoronado.com // @ShawnaCoronado

~ Shawna is a wellness lifestyle advocate, professional author, blogger, photographer, and media host who campaigns for social good. She has a “make a difference” focus on green lifestyle living, organic gardening, and healthy food recipes built to inspire.

The biggest and most horrifying mistake I have made in my garden happened when I first started gardening. My roses were covered with aphids and a friend of mine told me about a “systemic pesticide”, which can be a bug killer and fertilizer combined.

I used it and it worked so well that I put the systemic on every single plant in my garden. Systemic pesticides are taken up “inside” the plant by working through the root system and poisons the insects when they come to feed.

While it sounds like a principal that should be effective, the problem happened when I went to my butterfly loving plants and discovered no butterflies.

You might as well have painted a red target on my garden with the words POISON across the middle. I had no butterflies or beneficial insects in my garden for over five years from the point of application.

When I realized the disaster for my garden in its totality, I did more research on organic gardening and the benefits of helping the environment versus hurting the environment. From that point on my garden has been mostly organic;

I have a till-free vegetable garden, I work to avoid chemical herbicides and pesticides, I try to conserve water, and I do my best to help nature instead of harm nature by educating on organic growing and helping gardeners make positive choices.

 

Fran SorinFran Sorin FranSorin.com // @FranSorin

~ Fran is an author, gardening and creativity expert, and coach. She also has extensive media experience—as a media trainer, broadcaster, journalist, inspirational speaker, and celebrity spokesperson.

The biggest mistake I made when I started gardening was having absolutely no idea about the basics of garden design.

Although I loved learning about plant material, it took me a few years to understand that the structure and layout of the garden are the foundations from which everything else is built upon.

Once I was able to wrap my arms around that concept, I became passionate about creating the ‘bones of the garden’.

 

Megan CainMegan Cain CreativeVegetableGardener.com

~ Megan is a garden educator, writer and speaker. She likes to deliver down-to-earth and actionable advice you can use in your garden immediately. The goal is a beautiful garden that yields lots of food for the least amount of time and money invested.

The last house I owned was new construction. They destroyed the soil during the building process and then replaced about two inches of topsoil when they were done.

The first year we planted our vegetable garden the plants grew for a few months and then turned yellow and gave up.

I didn’t understand soil health the way I do now, so the garden limped along for years as I added compost, manure and various amendments I knew nothing about.

A few years later I took a class from a soil scientist who said, “Don’t add anything to your soil until you know what’s in it.”

Looking back, I should have gotten a soil test that first season and then come up with a multi-year plan for improving the soil. On the bright side, since then I’ve become much more knowledgeable about soil health.

That experience was an enlightening example of just how big of an impact the nutrients in our garden have on our plants.

 

Kathryn HallKathryn Hall PlantWhateverBringsYouJoy.com //  @KathrynHallPR

~Kathryn is the author of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden.  She is also an internationally known book publicist, who has spent three decades promoting bestselling books.

It’s ironic that in spite of having authored Plant Whatever Brings You Joy, seeming to invite complete license to total abandon in my gardening choices, I had not fully recognized that my garden was not, as I’d probably thought, a blank canvas.

I did compensate, inadvertently, by including the tenet, “Leave undisturbed corners in your garden,” but it took me years, frankly, to fully consider the fact that the land upon which I was gardening was far older than I, by about 4.5 billion years.

And that land had history and was part of something wildly beyond the confines of my garden fence. And, well, critters. All kinds. And they knew that patch of land as their ancestors had, over who knows how long, that particular bit of property.

And there were invisible trails and visitors and holes in the earth where things actually lived. And earthworms bellying down below as they are wont to do until it rains. So what about them?

For if I chose to see my garden as something upon which I could foist my full imagination without any consideration for what had come before, disruption occurred, far beyond what I could ever imagine. So with this new found consciousness, I now counsel that it’s good to consider what came before.

What I’m saying should not be considered a plea for Native Plants only, or any other strict interpretation of what we might do with the land upon which we find ourselves. But it is a suggestion to take full stock, to live with your bit of land, and see what it has to teach you and to offer, which might take a bit of time and patience.

And then perhaps begin to make changes, while honoring what came before. I think this is a good road to a more peaceful heart and a happier place to live.

 

Niki JabbourNiki Jabbour NikiJabbour.com // @NikiJabbour

~ Niki is a prolific garden writer whose work appears in newspapers and magazines across North America. She is also the host of The Weekend Gardener, a call-in radio show.

“Over the years, I’ve made many, MANY garden mistakes, but in my defense, it’s how I do my best learning. It’s actually hard to pick just one mistake, after all, I did plant my first veggie garden in the shade (oops!).

But, I think my biggest garden boo-boo was the year I planted mint in the middle of my mother’s perennial garden. I was about 16 years old and so excited to have my very first mint plant.

Little did I know about its invasive tendencies and it certainly didn’t come with a warning label. To this day, that mint is still growing in mom’s garden – which she reminds me every single year.

Sorry mom!! Lesson learned – mint goes in a pot, not a garden.

 

Amy AndrychowiczAmy Andrychowicz GetBusyGardening.com // @getbusygardenin

~ Amy is a garden writer who believes that creating gorgeous gardens doesn’t have to break the bank.

The biggest mistake I made when I first started gardening –

Wow, how do I just pick one?! Haha! Looking back, I’d say the biggest mistake I was making was not amending my soil. When I first started, I simply dug up the sod and planted my garden.

It worked, but now I see the huge benefits of adding rich organic compost to my gardens (and mulching them too).

 

David MarsdenDavid Marsden TheAnxiousGardener.com // @anxiousgardener

~ David is a self-employed gardener working chiefly at a large, private house in Sussex – The Priory.

My mistakes are legion but I think my biggest was simply not appreciating what a huge impact wildlife would have on my working life. Mostly, in a good way.

I work to a soundtrack of birdsong and see a huge diversity of creatures in the garden, including: tawny owls, bats, grass snakes, all sorts of amphibians and kingfishers. And then there’s roe and fallow deer. And rabbits.

Naively, I didn’t know what implacable foes deer and rabbits are to the gardener. Deer have destroyed at least six of my young trees, badly damaged several more and munched their way through an expensive tally of plants.

And rabbits aren’t shy in causing mayhem either. They not only nibble plants but dig them up too. Uneaten. (They also snip off tulip stems, just for fun). Even supposedly rabbit-proof plants aren’t immune; like euphorbia with its caustic sap, for goodness sake.

I’ve learnt to aim for a realistic balance between battle and acceptance. Rabbit netting is invisible from a distance; whereas six-foot deer fencing would give the garden an air of the Gulag – not a look we’re aiming for. Thanks to netting we are now rabbit-free (unless they gnaw through it or someone leaves a gate open) but deer effortlessly hop the three-foot post and rail.

I’ve protected some young fruit trees with timber cages but I can’t do so for all the trees, for all the shrubs and bushes. Those that aren’t caged are still prone to grazing or indiscriminate pruning. Succulent rose and clematis shoots disappear – with the culprits revealed only by sharp, pointy footprints or a pile of shiny, black droppings.

Pheasants eat new stems too, as do Canada geese and I haven’t even mentioned slug, snail, lily beetle, vine weevil and a host of other critters eyeing up the feast I offer. But the positives certainly outweigh the negatives and I feel privileged to work as part of such a wonderfully diverse community. Usually.

 

Patti Zacharia EstepPatti Zacharia Estep GardenMatter.com // @gardenmatter

~ Patti the creator of Garden Matter. She is sharing creative, practical and affordable home and garden project on her blog.

My biggest mistake was buying flowers and perennials that bloom at the beginning of the season.

Later on, I learned to do a little research ahead of my visit to the nursery so that I can have some things in bloom all season long.

 

 

Corinne KantorCorinne Kantor TheFoodCop.com // @TheFoodCop

~ Corinne is a Registered Dietetic Technician, Certified LEAP (Lifestyle Eating and Performance) Therapist, and award-winning writer.

A couple of years ago, I had all the grass taken out of my backyard so I could start my fruit and vegetable garden.

I think the biggest mistake I made when starting my garden (and I still make this mistake sometimes) is in determining which plants I should plant together in my raised garden beds.

This is important not just because of the benefits of companion planting (which can affect how your plants grow and respond to pests), but also because of the size some of my plants got (some grew much larger than I was expecting) and how they should be grown, such as vines, etc.

Another mistake I’ve made is when to harvest my plants, as it’s difficult to tell sometimes, depending on the plant.

Even though I’ve done a lot of research since starting my garden, including a lot of reading on the internet and attending some gardening classes, everyone’s growing environment and conditions are different, making it more challenging sometimes.

However, I absolutely love being able to walk into my backyard and eat fresh tomatoes right off the vine, making roasted vegetables using ingredients that I grew, and having fresh herbs to add to my food.

 

Melissa J. WillMelissa J. Will EmpressoOfDirt.net // @empressofdirt

~ Melissa is a writer, blogger, artist and an organic gardener. On her blog, she shares creative and frugal home and garden ideas with a dash of humour.

I tried to avoid improving the hard clay soil. My budget was tiny and it was too painful to put the funds available toward good compost instead of beautiful plants.

It only took a season or two before I realized good soil is the best beginning you can give a garden.

 

Barb RosenBarb Rosen OurFairfieldHomeAndGarden.com // @BarbRosen1

~ Barb is a newly retired fifth-grade teacher, a passionate home gardener, Lab lover and home improvement junkie.

When I started gardening, I did not always take the time to research plants before adding them to our garden. I saw a beautiful multi-color leaved plant on a garden tour and had to have it.

This is how I came to have Houttuynia cordata (also known as Chameleon plant) which has become the bane of my existence. Short of dynamite, you can’t get rid of this stuff and I have been battling it for years.

Luckily, I only put it in one flower bed but I fear I will be pulling and digging it until I’m too old to care anymore!

 

TanyaTanya Anderson LovelyGreens.com // @LovelyGreens

~ Tanya is a green lifestyle blogger based on the Isle of Man, a small island nation in the British Isles. She is also a vlogger, columnist, Bob Vila Professor, allotment secretary, and producer of natural bath and beauty products.

Growing too many crops that matured all at once! It’s easy to preserve cucumbers and beets but what do you do with a glut of lettuce?!

I’ve learned since then to not try to fill up my vegetable garden all at once and to instead sow a little bit of seed often. Here are more tips for newbie vegetable gardeners.

 

Lucy DebenhamLucy Debenham SmallestSmallholding.com // @SmallestHolding

~ Lucy is a 32 year old’s blogger that writes about homegrown vegetables, veganism, wildlife gardening, cooking, cakes, and bakes. 

The biggest mistake I made when I first started gardening was assuming that I had to do everything from sowing seed through to the kitchen with absolute perfection, and beating myself up about not being able to keep on top of everything!

Growing your own vegetables and maintaining a garden, however big or small, is a time-consuming job. As much as I love it and as much as it has become a huge part of my life, I’ve learned over the years to just be happy with whatever I can manage.

Expecting perfection and feeling frustrated, and as though I had constantly failed to live up to my dream of abundant, pretty veg plots, to beautifully manicured flower borders and a well-stocked kitchen garden, was not productive!

It didn’t make me happy, didn’t make me feel good about what I had and made me overlook the small joys of my garden. So my advice to new gardeners is to start small, and grow your expectations.

We all start somewhere and unless you have all the time in the world, and a team of undergardeners at your disposal, your garden will always be a work in progress. And that’s OK… it’s a living entity that changes and grows, so just enjoy every moment of it.

 

Ann-Christine Hellerup BrandtAnn-Christine Hellerup Brandt Valdemarsro.dk

~ Ann-Christine is a danish lifestyle blogger at Valdemarsro.dk. On her blog, she shares her many recipes, garden inspiration and travel guides.

The biggest mistake I made when I started growing my first garden was to focus on plants rather than on the soil. Back then, we had a house with an old garden, which was partially landscaped with beds. We didn’t either prepare or examine what type of soil we had to do with and what grew well in such a soil.

All my focus was on which kind of plants I wanted. I knew nothing about composting at the time and thought that fertilizer was something you bought the bottle and mixed with water. I sure had a beautiful garden back then, but the results could have been much better anyway …

Today I start to reverse starting from the ground, I cultivate the plants I recycle my green kitchen waste into compost to fertilize the soil and it gives overall a much better result.

 

Kim BrushKim Brush DayToDayAdventures.com // @Day2DayAdv

~ Kim is a lifestyle blogger that writes about gardening, food, and homeschooling. 

My biggest mistake when I first started gardening? I’d have to say that I assumed that the way that my mom and grandma gardened was the only way. I tilled my soil and even used pesticides which I would never do today.

There are better ways that promote the health of my family through our home grown food and build up the health of my garden soil as well.

I’m still learning and working on changing my ways which I like to blog about at Day to day Adventures.

 

Debra NeedlesDebra Needles LifeBetweenTheKitchenAndTheCoop.com //  @KitchenNTheCoop

~ Debra blogs from her urban homestead about methods to achieve sustainability at home and emergency preparedness. She also shares some of her favorite recipes.

I’ve learned a few lessons gardening, but perhaps the most important one was to keep trying. I want to speak to the beginning gardener and to the people think that they “can’t”.

I grew up in Iowa which is a farming state. You might think growing up in Iowa that growing things would come naturally to me. It didn’t.

I was a city girl with no green thumb whatsoever. On the few occasions I tried to grow plants they always ended up dead.

In fact, I was such a poor plant caretaker that when I had my second baby and my mother-in-law brought me a plant to the hospital, I said to her, “Mom, why did you buy me a plant? You know I kill everything.”

She told me, “You can’t kill this, it thrives on neglect.” (I think it was some sort of cactus or something.) Anyway, two weeks later it was dead. After that I never tried growing anything again.

That was 17 plus years ago. Until the last few years I never had a garden, never bought a house plant, never tried. And then I did. My husband and I have a wonderful garden and are able to preserve much of what we grow for our food storage.

The garden has blessed our lives in countless ways. All because I tried.

 

Catherine HughesCatherine Hughes GrowingFamily.co.uk // @growingfamilyuk

~ Catherine is a mum, wife, writer and fan of wellies. She loves exploring, creating and growing things and on her blog shares ideas, inspiration and tips for making the most of busy family life, indoors and out.

The biggest mistake I made was not feeding my plants. I thought that I could just buy a lovely new plant, put it in the ground, and leave it to grow with no more input from me.

I soon learned the hard way that if I wanted my garden to thrive, I needed to feed my plants regularly with a good quality plant food designed to suit their needs.

It’s a quick, low-cost gardening job that makes such a difference to the health of your plants; get into the habit of regular feeding and your garden will really have wow factor.

 

Lynne CherotLynne Cherot SensibleGardening.co

~ Lynne describes herself as being I’m a garden addict, or maybe just a compulsive gardener. She has been gardening for most of her life.

Feeling like I needed one of everything! Obsessed with perennials I wanted one of every plant available for my zone.

Soon realized this does not make a garden great, better to have more of fewer varieties that work well for your garden conditions. Often less is truly more!.

 

Bren HaasBren Haas BrenHaas.com // @BG_garden

~ Bren is a gardening blogger that loves being surrounded by green and growing her own organic food in a greenhouse.

I remember admiring beautiful dahlias in the garden center I use to work at and wishing I could grow something as majestic as the dinner plate variety in my home garden but it’s beauty always intimidated me.

A few years later I finally bought a package of dahlia tubers at a garden center that was on sale and figured I would have nothing to lose because they were super cheap. After my first attempt at growing the dahlia from

After my first attempt at growing the dahlia from tuber I was addicted! I can’t believe I was scared to try growing this beautiful plant in my home garden.

This year I’ll be introducing over a dozen new varieties of dahlias in a new cut flower garden addition to my home garden here in Ohio. I wrote about the dahlias on my site here

 

Vicki LaneVicki Lane VickiLaneMysteries

~ Vicki has lived and gardened on a western NC farm for over forty years. She is a novelist who draws inspiration from her surroundings and a blogger whose eclectic meanderings include writing, cooking, books, Appalachia, politics, nature, and gardening

Moving to the North Carolina mountains from Florida back in 1975 meant learning to garden all over again. The seasons weren’t the same for one thing. And on our mountain farm, the scale was vastly different.

In Florida I had tended a smallish, heavily mulched garden, meant to supply some salads and a few fresh vegetables but in NC I was inspired by our local neighbors and mentors to put out a much larger garden so that I could can and freeze and dry the produce and be nearly as self-sufficient as they were.

A hundred pounds of seed potatoes made a promising patch and the vegetable garden was laid out on a similar scale: long rows of cukes for pickles, trellis after trellis of beans, corn galore, cabbage, collards, broccoli, beets (even though we didn’t much like them, the thought of how pretty they would look in a jar on the root cellar shelf, led me to sow a generous plenty.)

Tomatoes, of course, and peppers of all kinds, as well as eggplant starts. All of this went into the newly tilled ground and began to grow.  I was so proud when my mentor/neighbor came to visit and surveyed the neat rows of young plants.

“Them weeds is coming on right smart,” she commented, eying the tiny dots of green sprinkled over the rich dirt. “Reckon you best get at them.”

“Oh, I like to wait till there’s something worth hoeing,” I replied, brushing off the suggestion.

The rains came that afternoon and didn’t let up for days. When at last I got back in the garden, the weeds were a thick green carpet and it was a matter of wrestling them out of the mud, not hoeing.

Lesson learned: It’s far easier and less time consuming to scuffle your hoe along routinely when the weeds are mere pinpricks than to confront the full grown versions in one epic battle.

 

Kay HebbournKay Hebbourn ThisWeekInTheGarden.co.uk // @PermieGardener

~ Kay is a keeper of chickens, grower of food, blogger, nature lover.

The biggest mistake I made ( a lot more than once! ) was to try and plant things too close together. I was and still am, so enthusiastic and keen to grow everything that I tried to put too much in.

I am working out that less is more and than vertical is the way to grow to create more space. I’m also harvesting a lot more baby crops and not allowing things to grow to their full size. This saves a lot of space and takes a lot less nutrients from the soil.

Veggies are tastier and more nutritious when they are small anyway.


Alison LeveyAlison Levey BlackBerryGarden.co.uk // @papaver

~ Alison’s greatest passion is to take care of her garden. She blogs about all things garden-related.

I have made many gardening mistakes and thankfully generally learn from them. There is one mistake that I do seem to make quite often and whilst I will learn from it in the specific context of that plant; I then go on and let it happen again.

I am talking about my love of self-seeding plants which is a really good way of adding a random feel to the planting, but can lead to unexpected crops. One of the worst mistakes I made was with Purple Orach.

The first year I grew a few plants and I was delighted the next year when I saw that it had set seed. I carefully weeded around the little purple seedlings thinking I could remove them if they got to be too many. They grew into good strong plants and the larger they got the more difficult they were to weed out.

I realised that I had to edit them out carefully as soon as I saw the seedlings and not let them develop too much. I also learned to remove most of the seed heads when before they set seed, I am pretty sure that every seed that hits the ground becomes a plant.

On saying that, I am glad I have them, they add good color to the garden.

 

Diana RodgersDiana Rodgers SustainableDish.com // @SustainableDish

~ Diana is a food Registered Dietitian Nutritionist living on a working organic farm She has an active nutrition practice where she helps people get on track with diet and lifestyle.

My husband and I run an organic CSA farm in Massachusetts.

One year I drove two hours to pick up hundreds of tomato plants and then realized after I got home that I was actually given eggplants.

 

Genevieve SchmidtGenevieve Schmidt GenevieveSchmidtDesign.com // NorthCoastGardening.com // @NCoastGardening

~ Genevieve is a professional landscape designer, organic gardener, and writer. She designs landscapes, consults with people who want to learn to care for their own gardens, and writes for publications like Garden Design Magazine.

My biggest mistake was being snobbish about using “common”, everyday plants that everyone is already familiar with. I wanted the newest and greatest varieties of everything, and so kept purchasing the most expensive, unusual new editions of everything at the nursery.

After years of feeling deflated when my expensive trials didn’t do well, I finally took a clue from some of my older and wiser gardening friends, and made my own fun combinations from things that were already growing well in my neighborhood.

Though gardening professionals like myself want to be artists in the garden, you can create great art with a simplified palette. Though I still try a few new plants each year, the majority of my garden is made up of those sturdy workhorses that I know will do well, and I don’t discount a plant just because everybody else is already growing it.

The pleasure I get from a healthy, thriving garden (with a few innovative or oddball plants thrown in for fun) far outweighs the joy of hunting down the latest new arrivals.

 

ErinErin TheImpatientGardener.com // @ImpatientGarden

~ Erin is a master gardener who is constantly learning about gardening (it’s one of the great things about gardening—you can never know it all). She is also a magazine editor.

I made so many mistakes as a new gardener, but I’ve learned from all of them. One of them I continue to learn from year after year.

When we bought our house I sought counsel from my mom, an avid gardener, about which plants were plants and which were weeds. One plant had a spike of pretty purple flowers and my mom warned me, “That’s a bad weed.” Feeling rather philosophical, I responded, “A weed is just a plant in the wrong place. I think it’s pretty.”

I would later learn that was Campanula ranpunculoides, aka creeping bellflower and to this deal, it is the worst weed I have faced. I have burned it with the weed torch, dug up entire beds and even resorted to glycophosphate.

It spreads by rhizomes that create new plants every time you split one but don’t entirely remove it. Each plant produces up to 3,000 seeds. Perhaps that one flower that I insisted on leaving more than a decade ago is responsible for the thousands of creeping bellflower plants I do battle with every year.

But they are a reminder of an important lesson: Never trust a weed you don’t know. And listen to your mother.

 

Mark Ridsdill SmithMark Ridsdill Smith VerticalVeg.org.uk  // @VerticalVeg

~ Mark is the founder of Vertical Veg. Hocus entirely on growing food in containers. He started his growing in London on a balcony, and now he have a container garden in his concrete backyard in Newcastle (UK).

When I decided to start growing food on my balcony, one of the first things I did was to build a large container made of wood. I put a lot of time and effort into this – and the container itself looked great.

Unfortunately, the plants did not grow well in it. Why? I had built it in the shadiest part of the balcony!

So I learnt that it is always worth observing any new growing space to work out where the sun and shady parts are. A good way to do this is to take photos every couple of hours one sunny day.

It’s a good idea to do this at a few different times of year – as the sun patterns can change considerably though the seasons in some parts of the world, like in the UK where I live.

I’ve also learnt that, if possible, it can be a good idea to grow for a year or two in a new space before making a significant investment of time (or money) building (or buying) any new structures.

After a year of growing, you will be in a much better position to know what you need – saving yourself time and money and probably come up with much better solutions, too.

 

Charles HawesCharles Hawes CharlesHawes.Veddw.com // @charlesbchawes

~ Charles is a garden photographer (Discovering Welsh Gardens), social Worker and the co-creator of Veddw Garden.

I used to grow our veg! My biggest mistake was to make everything such hard work.

I was anxious to do it RIGHT! There are much easier and less labour intensive ways of doing most things.

I would recommend most tips from Charles Dowding.

 


Stephanie RoseStephanie Rose GardenTherapy.ca // @Garden_Therapy

~ Stephanie shares her personal take on gardens and crafting from natural materials and she shares each step with photos so that they can be recreated by others.

My biggest mistake when I first started gardening was loving it too much!

I used gardening as therapy to heal from a debilitating illness and when I would get out in the garden I would get lost in the pure joy of it.

Unfortunately, doing too much at once would set me back a bit health-wise. I learned to pace myself while enjoying how the garden grows and develops over time.

Today, I slow down, garden a bit, and schedule in plenty of time to relax and enjoy the space.

 


Charlotte WeychanCharlotte Weychan TheGallopingGardener // @GardenGalloper

~Charlotte is the author, the photographer and the intrepid traveler who searches the world for new gardens.

The biggest mistake I made when I first started gardening was allowing myself to get carried away by all the exciting plants I could buy, without thinking ahead about the finished result. So I ended up with unsuitable plants in the wrong places!

But once I had time to consider my plot and think about how it would eventually look, and think about other factors like what it would look like from inside and how the sun fell throughout the seasons, I was able to create a garden that gave me colour and interest throughout the year; a range of plants that grew in both shade and sun; graded borders with groupings that increased in height from front to back;

It also gave me a finished picture that fitted both the space available and the overall setting while complimenting the style and design of my home, thus giving me an outside room in keeping with my interiors.

I believe a garden should reflect the owner, rather than current plant trends or whimsical purchases from the nursery.

 

Matt MattusMatt Mattus GrowingWithPlants.com // @MattMattus

~Matt is a life-long plant person, designer, and general plant enthusiast. He is an artist, a professional designer of many things – brands, products, graphics, and gardens.

My biggest mistake was planting only one seed of ornamental gourds, and when they matured, they were an egg shaped all-white variety. (I was 5 years old).

I was so devastated as I was expecting fanciful multicolored gourds as illustrated on the package that my dad, who was an artist, surprised me by hand painting an entire bushel basket full of bright colors.

Even today they were the best gourds ever.

 


Richard ReynoldsRichard Reynolds  GuerillaGarden.org // @Richard_001

~ Richard is the founder of Guerrilla Gardening.  He started his blog in Oct 2004 as a record of his illicit cultivation around London. It is now a growing arsenal for anyone interested in the war against neglect and scarcity of public space.

Doing it at 2am in the morning. When I began guerrilla gardening in 2004 I was very anxious about encountering anyone who would question what I was up to.

I didn’t have permission and didn’t want trouble. So I set my alarm clock, had a strong cup of tea and set to work. I got the job done but it was exhausting.

As my confidence grew over the subsequent months I realized such subterfuge was not only unnecessary but meant I missed out on the fun and satisfaction of conversations with passers-by. I had nothing to hide.

It’s better to be brazenly confident and tell inquisitive passers-by what you’re doing. Sometimes they even join in or are inspired to do it elsewhere. Guerrilla gardening can be a social thing, it’s fun to invite people along.

I even met my wife this way when guerrilla gardening ten years ago on a traffic island.


Helen YoestHelen Yoest GardeningWithConfidence.com // @HelenYoest

~ Helen is a frequent speaker for botanicals garden, horticultural societies, Master Gardener groups, as well as garden clubs. She is also a regular radio and television guest.

I believe I’ve made so mistakes; I was experienced enough to write my first book and blog title, Gardening With Confidence.

Truth be told, I still make a few.

But if I could only name one, it would be forcing maturity by planting too close together. Gardeners have a tendency to want instant gratification, but I find that doesn’t come until I’m editing out my earlier mistakes. 😉

Especially with trees and shrubs, space according to your areas growth habits.

The labels are only a general guideline; it’s best to ask a friend how tall and wide the plants gets for them.

 

Nancy J. OndraNancy J. Ondra Hayefield.com

~ Nancy had a lifelong love of plants, but it didn’t develop into a full-blown obsession until her late teens. She has a B.S. degree in Agronomy and Environmental Science.

My biggest mistake as a beginning gardener?

Following the “rules” of designing a perennial border, based on the advice of the one perennials book that I owned at the time.

The garden was way too big, and most of the plants covered in the book were not available at the local garden center. I had no idea how expensive it was going to be to buy the plants that I could get, and I couldn’t afford to buy multiples to make the “drifts” of 5 or 7 or 9 plants that the book recommended.

Set at the recommended spacing, the plants I brought home looked tiny in the huge space, and weeds did much better than the perennials. Though I eventually got it to look ok, that border was always more of a disappointment than a pleasure.

Among the lessons learned: First, find out what you can buy locally, making notes of which plants you really like and how much they cost.

When you get home, do some online research to find out if they will grow in your yard and narrow down your list. Decide how much you can spend, and plan the size of your new garden accordingly.

Remember: You can always make a small border bigger later (space permitting, of course) but it’s very difficult to fix a too-big border if you overestimate your skills, time, and budget!

 

Emma CooperEmma Cooper TheUnconventionalGardener.com //  @emmathegardener

~ Emma is an ethnobotanist. She loves edible and useful plants, and her garden is her sanctuary. She’s currently in the middle of building a beautiful, bountiful paradise in her backyard.

My biggest mistake when I started gardening was with watering. I’d potter about with the watering can, giving each plant a little bit of water.

But that encourages the plants to grow shallow roots, which means if you miss a day or two of watering then they suffer from a water shortage.

If you give them a good soaking less often, they grow deeper roots, and are more tolerant of drought. Watering properly makes life easier for you and your plants!

I think my biggest mistake has probably been not watering enough. We sometimes have a lot of rain in England, so I forget about watering.

However, I live in Kent, which is one of the driest parts of Britain, and every summer there is a drought. It took me a while to realize that my vegetables needed a lot of water to grow well.

And rain often doesn’t fill pots properly, so pots almost always need some extra watering help. Although you can get automatic watering systems, it’s nice to treat watering as a mindfulness exercise.

Either make it part of waking -up or relaxing at the end of the day. Decide on what order your plants will be watered and let your mind drift as you focus on how your plants are growing. The slow gentle movements of filling the cans and pouring the water over the plants

The slow gentle movements of filling the cans and pouring the water over the plants is repetitive and soothing. It gets your body moving without making too many demands on it.

 

Kathy PurdyKathy Purdy ColdClimateGardening.com // @KathyPurdy

~ Kathy is a nationally known garden expert, writer, photographer, and speaker. In 2015, she won the prestigious Silver Award of Achievement from the Garden Writers Association.

The biggest mistake I made when I started gardening was trying to do too much. It’s very easy to start a garden bed in the glory of the first spring days, but it’s not so easy to maintain it as the summer progresses.

When I started gardening, my children were quite small, and my garden was always overgrown with weeds by the end of the gardening season.

The smartest thing I did was to accept imperfection from myself and to not give up, because even though the garden looked like a mess I was still learning every year and growing in skills.

Now that my children are grown my gardens are better (but still not perfectly) cared for. Thanks to those early years I now recognize many weeds as seedlings and remove them a lot sooner!

 

Noelle JohnsonNoelle Johnson AZPlantLady.com // @azplantlady
~ Noelle is a horticulturist, blogger, garden writer helping others learn how to grow beautiful, low-maintenance gardens that thrive in the desert southwest and beyond.

As a new homeowner, I was anxious to have a flower garden. I bought several Shasta daisies and then proceeded to fertilize them using a tablespoon of granular fertilizer for each one.

Needless to say, I didn’t read the fertilizer package label as to how much fertilizer to add. The next morning, all my newly planted daisies were dried up and dead due to adding too much fertilizer.

The lesson learned, was to read the label of the fertilizer package and that when in doubt, less is more.

 

Nadine PierceNadine Pierce A Pentland Garden Diary // @nadinepierce

~ Nandine is the Marketing Manager at Tayburnltd, self-confessed gluttonista, food and gardening blogger, bonne-viveuse.

So many mistakes to look back on (and still making to be sure), one was planting mint in the herb garden (without separating off the roots) – who knew it would take over everything!
Another was buying an apple and a pear tree and planting them in the only available space we had for fruit trees only to discover a couple of years later that both apples and pear trees need another one close by for pollination, otherwise no fruit (not to mention that pears just don’t like the climate where we live) – we’ve just dug out the pear and bought another apple!
Another big one is not heeding the plant care instructions properly – we’ve lost so many by just thinking it’ll be alright! (has been an expensive one that!)

 

Nick MoyleNick Moyle TwoThirstyGardeners.co.uk // @ThirstyGardener

~Nick is one-half of the Two Thirsty Gardeners who grow their own produce and turn it into alcoholic drinks. They chronicle their digging and swigging adventures on their website and have published their most popular home grown booze recipes in the book ‘Brew it Yourself’.

Trying to do everything at once. It may look impressive to have a large, weed free blank canvas of a garden, but it’s impossible to plant everything at once.

I found myself so busy constantly fighting new weed growth that I didn’t have time to get around to the fun stuff.

Since then I’ve learnt to manage one small area at a time until each section of the garden is in a better position to look after itself.

 


Thank you to all the experts that contributed to this post! I love all the answers. Also, a big thanks to all of the amazing gardeners who are a part of my community.

Now we want to hear from you! In the comments below this post share a mistake you’ve made in your own gardening journey.

If you enjoyed reading about our experiences, share the post with all of your friends to be sure they don’t make the same mistakes we have!

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Comments

  • Wow! I love all these mistakes – I have committed a few in my time also.

    Epic post. Thanks,
    Sue

    • Hi Sue,

      Thanks for commenting on my post! I didn’t know that gardening was among your hobbies. You should post an image with your garden.

      Best,
      Minuca

  • Hi Megan,
    Good to see Minuca on your page with a wonderful roundup!

    It is indeed amazing to read about my fav subject. Great shares of people who are deeply involved in it. Though, as I said it’s my fav subject and love to do it, but in the present situation, since we are living in an apartment, gardening is a far away dream subject! Of course, terrace gardens are an option!

    Coming to the post, oh my, these are really well-presented mistakes by the experts in the field!! LOL
    Yes, the new gen can pick a lot of lessons from these experts mistakes.

    Thanks, Minuca, for presenting their blunders in a wonderful way!

    Keep up the good work! Keep sharing! Have a great time of sharing and caring! Nice to meet you, Meagan, too, this is my first visit to your page Keep writing! Will come back again to read more.
    Best
    Regards
    ~ Philip Ariel
    @PVAriel

    • Hi Philip,

      I’m glad you like this roundup I did for Megan. One of the bloggers featured here, Mark Ridsdill Smith, mentioned he started growing plants on his balcony. Maybe this is a good option for you too.

      Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment and for you kind words! I hope you enjoyed reading my post.

      Have a wonderful week,
      Minuca

  • What an honor to be included among some of my favorite folks who have helped me learn more about growing successfully in my home garden. Wonderful to ‘meet’ you Minuca and thank you for putting together such a great piece that I can’t wait to share with everyone. It was really tough picking just ONE gardening mistake and the first one that came to mind included the plant I’m preparing to plant this week in my garden. There is no doubt with all these great tips everyone can learn to grow!

    • Thanks for being a part of it, Bren!

    • Hi Bren,

      I’m glad you like my expert roundup.

      Reading about other people’s mistakes makes us feel better about ourselves. In our struggle for being the best, we tend to forget that nobody is perfect and mistakes are normal. The good part in doing something wrong is that we learn valuable lessons.

      Thank you for participating in my roundup! Best,
      Minuca

  • My biggest mistake early on was thinking that my chickens would be good garden helpers. They actually are, but they require LOTS of supervision and are only allowed access during the off-months. Never during prime growing season! But they do love to help eat any bug-eaten veggies!
    Lisa
    Fresh Eggs Daily

    • Lisa- Thanks for sharing! I agree, chickens can be very dangerous. I only made that mistake once.

  • Most definitely I could mirror the “mint” planting but I think my biggest mistake was not having my garden close to my home and easily accessible. We have five acres and even having the garden on the 3rd acre was not convenient when I was sewing or cleaning or babysitting, etc. Now I have it right off my back deck and I walk the garden every day! I am sure there are many more ….. come to think of it, passion vine…love it but it loved my deck, my house my furniture on my deck, etc….it needs it’s own home!! These are wonderful, thanks for sharing! Pamie G.

    • Pam- That’s a great one! I also think having your garden near your house gives you more pleasure because you get to see it every day. I can see mine from my living room so I take extra care to make it as beautiful as possible. Thanks for sharing!

  • It’s good to know the mistakes of others. I learn a lot everyday about gardening myself

  • Polly Halicki

    Great article! To hear about these mistakes is encouraging…and also a great resource for so many gardening blogs to follow! Bravo!

  • This post was a real treat to read! Thanks for including me, lots of fun for sharing:)

  • What a great article Minuca! Gardening has been one of the greatest joys of my life. I thought that I would give it a try when I was really depressed to see if it would help my mood. I don’t know if it was the sun or the plants, but it helped to brighten my spirits. I am still pretty new to gardening, but reading this post and hearing about expert’s mistakes has really shed a new light on my own gardening experience (cause I make a lot of mistakes..lol). Great article!

    • Thanks, for your comment, Todd! I agree, there’s nothing quite like spending a few hours in my garden to clear away any stress, sadness or general funkiness. I’ve been gardening for a long time and I still make mistakes every season.

    • Hi, Todd,

      I’m so glad you like my expert roundup. Somebody asked me what is my answer to this question. My biggest gardening mistake is that I’m not a gardener. Maybe I should spend more time in a garden. I love the sun and the flowers, but living in an apartment, I don’t know how I could do it.

      Thanks, Todd! I so appreciate the fact you are always sharing and commenting on my posts.

      Best,
      Minuca

  • How about not understanding weeds! That was just one of my mistakes.
    https://vegetarianperspective.com/2016/08/22/listen-to-your-weeds/

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