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15 Mistakes Everyone Makes When They Try Gardening For The First Time

Earthworms? Good! Brown slugs? Bad!

Starting your first garden can be a little intimidating, but with a little research and preparation, I promise you won't end up with a plant graveyard.

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While a good bit of gardening is trial and error, reading up on these 15 classic gardening mistakes will help you develop a green thumb and ensure you start your garden off on the right foot.

1. You buy too many plants at once, instead of starting off with a few you could easily manage.

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I know those seasonal seed sales are hard to pass up, but what exactly do you plan to do with 500 seeds, I ask you? It's okay that you're excited to start your own little plant family, but it's important to be realistic with yourself. Start off slow, plant 2-3 seeds per hole, and give the seeds time to germinate aka time to actually sprout. Remember, you can always go into the garden and plant more seeds if you need to.

2. You accidentally buy dying plants from nurseries instead of healthy ones.

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If you plan on buying plants from nurseries, make sure you're checking for signs of sickness, like brown spots and wilted leaves. While buying starter plants from nurseries is easier than starting your garden off with seeds, if the plants you buy are already dying, you'll probably end up disappointed.

3. You don't prep your soil before planting.

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Soil πŸ‘ prep πŸ‘ is πŸ‘ important πŸ‘ people! Just like you prime your face before putting on makeup or prime a wall before painting it, you must prep your soil before planting. To do it, get your hands dirty and plow the soil, add in manure or compost, and make your garden as plant-friendly as possible. Learn how to test and prep your soil here!

4. You throw out plant tags without reading the information on them.

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Before cutting off those plant tags and chucking them in the trash, pause and actually read the tag. It's filled with important information, like its blooming season, sun requirements, and even watering preferences. Think of the tag as your gardening cheat sheet.

5. You plant your flowers or vegetables out of season.

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Remember that tag thing I mentioned? It lets you know the blooming season of your plants. If your favorite flower blooms during the summer, then don't plant it in October. Check out this resource to find out which season works best for your favorite veggies.

6. You don't check if your plants prefer more sun or more shade.

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Repeat after me: plants need sunlight! The amount of sunlight each plant needs differs from species to species, but in general, you shouldn't plant your precious flowers directly underneath the shade of an oak tree. If your backyard stays shady in the afternoon, plant things like basil, which actually benefit from shade. And if the side of your house seems to always be soaked in sunlight, plant something like lavender, which thrives in the sun.

7. You over- or under-water your plants.

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Knowing how much and how often to water your plants is definitely difficult when you're starting your first garden, but don't fret. There are so many plant encyclopedias that are filled with all the knowledge you need to take care of your plant babies. If you're looking for a plant that can go a full week without water, air plants are you best friends. But other plants like the canna lily prefer to grow in standing water.

8. You water the tops of your plants instead of focusing on the roots.

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Like us, plants need water, but knowing where to water your plants can be a little tricky. While there's nothing wrong with showing the tops of your plants a little love with the watering can, what you really need to focus on are the roots. Shallow watering is just as deadly as over watering your plants, so make sure your getting your watering can right down to the roots.

9. You forget to feed your plant.

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There's more to taking care of plants than just watering them. That packet of plant food you get in bouquets isn't just for decoration, you're actually supposed to use it. And adding compost β€” that is, if you compost β€”Β to your plants help keep them fed and full of nutrients. Trust me, eggshells plus soil equals happy plants.

10. You don't check if a plant is invasive to your region before planting.

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Invasive plants are to the gardening world what glitter is to the crafting world β€” they're impossible to get rid of. You don't have to worry about invasive plants when you buy from local nurseries, but if you're buying seeds online or bringing some home from vacation, do your research. When planted in their non-native ecosystem, invasive species like Japanese honeysuckle and Norway maple take over native plants, spread like wildfire, and basically need an act of god to go away.

11. You plant your seeds too close together instead of giving them room to grow.

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Plants, much like people, are all about personal space. When you place seeds too close together, you don't give their roots a fighting chance of spreading out, so basically you're suffocating your plant babies. Again, read the plant tag to see the average width of the plant you're trying to grow, and then spread the seeds accordingly. And like most things in life, it's best if you start with a plan.

12. You get rid of the wrong pests.

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Just like there is good bacteria and bad bacteria in the human body, there are good pests and bad pests in gardens. In general, earthworms are your garden's best friend. They dig through the soil providing holes for water to sink through which is exactly what you want. Brown snails, however, are garden killers. Luckily, there are ways to help your garden while repelling snails at the same time, like spreading eggshells and coffee grounds on your soil! The snails may hate you, but your plants will thank you.

13. You keep dead blooms on your plant instead of cutting them off.

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Not only do dead flowers make your garden look less like a party and more like a funeral, but they suck up all your plant's energy. Going through and cutting off all the dead blooms from your plants redirects energy to the living flowers, which makes for healthier, happier plants. However, over-pruning your plants will lead to weak stems that won't survive through storms, so make sure you only snip away when absolutely necessary.

14. You let weeds run wild instead of taming them.

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Digging up weeds is maybe the worst part of gardening, but as much as it may suck, it's important that you do it. Digging up weeds guarantees that your plants have enough room to grow and it'll make your garden look more put together. Sometimes it can be hard to differentiate between blooming plants and weeds, so make sure you know what weeds actually look like. And remember, there are some weeds like dandelions and white clover that actually help your garden by protecting the soil and attracting garden friendly insects like ladybugs.

15. And finally, you give up too soon.

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Patience, my child, patience. Just like a watched pot never boils, a watched plant never blooms. I know it's hard to wait for your plants to bloom, but you have to give your garden time to grow. Don't give up too early, and remember to believe in yourself and your plants. They'll bloom eventually.

Check out more Gardening Week posts for tips, tricks, and inspo.

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