Nobody’s perfect. Last year I made a succession of mistakes in my own garden, that ranged from falling off a shed to almost concreting the neighbour’s cat. Fortunately my mistakes in client projects are far less frequent, and almost never involved domesticated pets and fast-setting aggregates.
But on the whole, mistakes are good. Somebody much cleverer than me once responded to a question about failure with “I either succeed or I learn.” We learn from our own mistakes. OR…we come to a blog post that lists a bunch of mistakes that we can learn from without making them. That works too. So let’s get into it.
Death By Water
Oh boy this is a good one. Who remembers standing on their mum’s lawn covering every flowerbed, tree, weed and plant in gallons of water from the fancy sprinkler nozzle on the hose? We all did it once. And some of us still do. After all, how bad can water be for the garden?!
Don’t water during the warmest part of the day. Firstly it’s a waste, as so much will be lose to evaporation. Secondly, you can actually increase the temperature of the plants as water droplets can act like magnifying glasses for sunlight. Unleashing the hose should be the first or last thing you do, greeting or sending off the day.
The other main mistake is doing what I mentioned earlier. Standing in one position and coating the garden as if it was raining. It might seem natural, but rain showers go on for a long time and do a good job of saturating the soil. Don’t spend all your time watering leaves and trunks. Spend more time on the soil and, if you can, poke some holes to fill with water as this will seep over time.
We bring plants inside during the winter to protect them, and because it’s easier to manage their upkeep. But whether it’s for sheltering plants or those that live indoors all the time, some of us seem to have a vendetta against them. Most houseplants are killed with kindness, particularly overwatering.
Ignore everything above about hosepipes and poking holes. For potted plants, the best way to give them the water they need is to sit them in a sink or bathtub with a little water in it. They’ll absorb directly from the roots, rather than get the trickle of what makes its way through the soil. Give them an hour or so to absorb, then pop them back in their positions.
(And yes, this would be the preferable way to water most plants but unless you have a series of labyrinthine tunnels in your back garden, it’s quite difficult…)
Lacking Vendetta: Slugs
Most of us act when it’s too late on this front. There are lots of ways to deal with slugs, the quick fixes, the humane options. Whichever you choose, make sure you get your defences down before the sun warms up and excites the little buggers. Early spring is best, and as for techniques we like copper tape, grit, egg shells and beer traps. Stop them from feeding and breeding, and the battle is already won.
More Vendettas! Attack the Lawn!
Do. Not. Mow. Your. Lawn. So. Short.
Scalping your lawn is a huge problem. Sure, it looks great all manicured like that for a barbecue or garden party. But sometimes it’s a steep price to pay for some pretty photos. If you scalp your lawn and then go through a dry spell, you will be fighting with it all summer. Let it stay long when you know a drought is coming. And the same goes for watering: first or last thing in the day.
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