Gardening is one of America’s best-loved past times. According to a Spring 2014 survey, 113.5 million Americans had spent time gardening in the past year: that’s roughly a third of all Americans! And there is little wonder why. Gardening allows you to personalize your home, increase its value, and stay active all at once.
But for a new gardener, it can be intimidating. After all, we’ve all seen the house with a poorly planned garden: clumps of flowers with nothing growing in between, not enough variety of color (or too much), or dead flowers mixed in with the living.
Here are some common mistakes even a devoted gardener can make, and some simple fixes.
Are you familiar with the old adage “Success is 90% preparation, 10% perspiration”? Well, it is as true of gardening as it is for anything else. Before you plant your first pansy, it’s important for you, as the gardener, to know what will work best in your garden, and in what season.
But planning doesn’t stop at understanding the flowers, you should have a firm idea of what is going where. This will help for several reasons. First, it will help you avoid overcrowding or stagnant color schemes. Second, it will allow you to maximize the drama of your garden.
The most important piece of advice is to think of your garden not as one large painting but as a series of tableaus, all of them related but possessing their own identity and life. For instance, you can put a predominately purple and pink parcel in between two shrub dominated parcels to provide contrast.
While there is nothing wrong with maintaining a small garden along the front of your home --especially if you have a smaller lawn -- you shouldn’t be afraid to make your garden a living space rather than an ornamentation.
Think of your favorite movie or TV show set in Victorian England. How luxurious does it sound to go take your tea in the garden?
Making this transformation is easier than you think. It can be as simple as clearing out enough space for a cozy cafe table and chairs. If you are truly ambitious, you can expand your garden to include a little sitting area, surrounded by plants and trees for some tea (or coffee) time privacy.
Many a gardener will shy away from adding furniture or embellishing details to their garden, but remember a garden is not a natural space, it is a celebration and cultivation of man’s relationship with nature.
No Foliage, No Shrubs
While it might be tempting to pack your garden full of high drama and colorful flowers, you should consider adding shrubs or foliage plants to your garden. Doing so will not only make your garden more texturally rich and visually interesting, but it will help carry your garden through the awkward transition period as some flowers pass out of season and others have only started to bloom.
Too Much/Too Little Water
This should be simple, and yet it’s one of the most common mistakes a gardener will make, regardless if they are a novice or expert. The simplest piece of advice is to water less often, more deeply. There are a number of other tips, such as watering at dawn and dusk. In the end, they all boil down to this: whether you use a watering can or a garden hose, it is important to practice mindful care as a gardener. There are literally lives at stake.
If done right, a garden should enhance the beauty of your home. By following these tips, you can make your favorite pastime work for you.