Whether you’re a first-time homeowner or a longtime resident who’s only now making the most of the backyard, forgoing professional landscapers for old-fashioned gardening of your own can be a creative, invigorating, and altogether worthwhile endeavor. But gardening is a classic case of a pursuit that’s quite a bit harder than it looks. There are more mistakes to avoid when you start gardening than you might expect. We’ll cover some of the big ones ahead.
Don’t Forget Mulch
Mulch isn’t strictly a decorative flourish for your garden. This product serves an important purpose—namely, keeping valuable moisture in your soil and protecting against erosion. You can buy bags of mulch, usually from cedar or cypress bark, at any home improvement superstore, but you can also make mulch of your own from organic material in your own backyard. Take freshly cut grass and fallen leaves from your lawnmower and repurpose them into a useful supplement for your garden.
Study Your Soil
It’s easy to assume that dirt is dirt wherever you dig. Wrong—soil is a science, and understanding that science is integral to successful gardening. Just as farmers are mindful of their soil’s pH level, or its acidity or alkalinity, you’ll have to do the same when considering what to plant in your soil. You may have to tailor your plant selection to your soil to ensure good growth. Conversely, you can buy neutral topsoil or use composts to adjust the pH of your yard’s soil.
Don’t Underestimate Your Allergies
Environmental allergies are a tricky thing. If you tend to spend a lot of time indoors, you may not know how sensitive you are. After devoting some serious time to working in the dirt, you may find out the hard way that you have some undiagnosed environmental allergies, which can lay a killing frost over your outdoor aspirations. Moreover, exposure to high levels of springtime pollen in the air could push your immune system to an uncomfortable level of hypervigilance. If you’re going to take up gardening, be prepared to confront allergies—even if they’ve never been a problem before—with over-the-counter antihistamines or a visit to the allergist.
Take a Strong Stand Against Weeds
Many novice gardeners avoid pesticides and herbicides to protect the plants they wish to grow, a well-meaning misstep that certainly falls among the mistakes to avoid when you start gardening. Highly opportunistic growers, weeds will run roughshod over your garden if you let them. This isn’t simply an aesthetic concern—weeds can take over the soil meant for your plants. Don’t be afraid to spray weeds when necessary, and when you do some weeding by hand, always be sure to pull them out, roots and all.