With the fall season being one of the best for planting, we thought it might be a good idea to send out a few reminders about mistakes that people make when it comes to gardening and our tips for overcoming them.

5 Common Gardening Mistakes

1. Not following proper sanitation practices. Examples of improper sanitation practices are: allowing diseased leaves to lay on the garden ground, not disinfecting pruners between cuttings of diseased plants, not cleaning pots and cages, putting diseased or insect-infested plants into the compost pile, and not rotating related crops to other areas of the garden. All of these practices can cause disease and pest issues to recur in the garden in a vicious never-ending cycle.

Pruners can be dipped into a bucket of a 1:9 ratio of bleach and water solution to sanitize between cuts. 

2. Planting too many plants, or not taking the mature size of a plant into consideration. When the nursery is full of beautiful plants, as it is this fall, it’s easy to let your eyes do the shopping. However, loading up a wagon without a plan can cause you to bring home more plants than you have room for, and you may end up crowding your garden which leads to poor air circulation and disease issues.


  • Or, if you shop only with your eyes without doing research on the plants you are buying, you might not realize that the cute little plant you bought in a one gallon container will actually grow 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide. Suddenly the 2 foot area you were going to plant it in just won’t work. Do your research on plants before going to the nursery, or come browse first and take notes on plants you can research and then come back for.

3. Procrastinating when it comes to garden tasks. We know there are some days that you just don’t feel like getting out there and gardening. But there is a reason why we pound timely gardening tips into your brains when they come up. When you don’t accomplish certain tasks in the time period they should be completed, it can either cause issues and problems that could have been avoided, or you miss out on the amazing benefits that doing the task affords you.

A few timely gardening tasks:

  • applying pre-emergents for weed prevention in early spring and early fall
  • fertilizing your lawn in spring and fall (organic or synthetic info)
  • planting vegetables at the right time
  • planting trees, shrubs, woody perennials in fall for best success
  • harvesting vegetables before they pass their peak harvest dates
  • pruning (when to prune oaks, spring flowering shrubs, summer flowering shrubs)

Many new gardeners don’t realize that strawberries should be planted in October/November rather than in spring for the best harvests. If you’ve only planted them in spring, try planting them this fall and you’re sure to be amazed at the difference.

4. Not prepping your soil. This is probably one of the biggest mistakes that gardeners make, it’s one that is the easiest to correct and it makes a huge difference in growing success. Almost all soil in Texas is less than desirable for growing plants. Taking the time to loosen up the soil, mix in some compost and giving it some good organic fertilizer before planting will offer plants a suitable and desirable location to develop healthy roots. Just don’t skip this task. It’s as plain as that.

5. Over watering/Under watering. Watering plants seems like it would be the simplest garden task to learn, but in actuality it is one of the hardest. It’s also the hardest to teach because how much you water can depend on many factors. Soil type, plant variety, soil drainage, sun and wind exposure, natural rainfall, and plant season can all have an affect on how much water your plant needs. We’ve put together a guide for watering lawns, and our tree and shrub planting guide gives watering advice, but other plants need your discerning eye and finger. Sticking your finger into soil, up to your second knuckle, is one of the best gauges for finding out if your plant needs water. If your finger comes out dry, water your plant, if it feels moist and soil sticks to it, don’t.


It’s handy, it’s with you all the time, it works!

As I was writing this, I realized there was so much more I wanted to share to help you avoid unnecessary heartache when it comes to your gardeing endeavors, so I’m going to bring you Part 2 in this blog series next week. I hope that these reminders will help you have the most successful fall season of planting yet!

~The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy