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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Avoiding Garden Mistakes that Cost Big

Gardening Mistakes that Cost Big

Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup, would like to share gardening tips that can potentially save you lots of money this spring.

  1. Do not try to growing grass under trees or in shady areas of your landscape. Generally lawns are seeded with a mix of Kentucky blue grass, fine fescue and rye grass each making contributions to the whole of the lawn but will not grow in full shade. Instead of investing money in new grass seed take alternative steps like growing ground covers or making a mulch ring. Shade loving ground covers like vinca, pachysandra, sweet woodruff and ajuga can be bought in flats of 24 or 36 and spaced 6-12" apart. Place a mulch ring around the base of the tree to retain moisture, limit soil erosion, improve aesthetics and prevent lawn mower damage. It is best to never spread mulch more than 3-4" thick so no mulch volcanos that can be harmful trees.
  2. Research it before you plant it. One skill masterful gardeners learn is being able to choose the right plant for the right place. Ask yourself a few questions before walking into a greenhouse or nursery like: What kind of soil do I have? What is the sun exposure? Do I have good drainage? How much area do I want to cover? Then follow two simple landscape rules: plant in drifts of 3 or more and choose plants with nice foliage. Most flowering perennials have short blooming periods.
  3. Avoid the permanent mulch like landscaping fabric and rocks. These may be efficient at reducing weeds for the first few years but eventually soil and debris will accumulate and landscape fabric will have to be pulled up and rock will have to be dug out to remove the weeds.
  4. Plant landscape trees properly. The biggest mistake in planting trees is planting too deep. Find the place where the roots start to grow and place them at soil level. You may find that the young nursery tree has been planted too deep in the pot that you bought it in.
  5. Not preparing soil. It is easy to add some organic matter to the soil like compost to give the roots a chance to spread and take hold.
  6. Not checking roots when buying plants. If the roots are not a fully formed root ball and white then the plant may not be healthy. Also check for thick and encircling roots that may girdle the tree. A masterful gardener will not buy a plant without first checking the roots.
  7. Planting invasive plants. Many plants can have invasive qualities and will be difficult to deal with in about two to three years. If you would like to not pay with your sweat then turn down that free plant from the neighbor, it is probably invasive.