Planning A Garden Wisely: How To Avoid Garden Planning Mistakes

Lady With Architectural Garden Designs
(Image credit: efired)

If you think you can avoid all garden design mistakes, you are probably wrong. Everyone makes a mistake or two. By putting a little thought into planning a garden wisely, however, you can prevent basic problems. Common gardening mistakes include ignoring your environment, picking the wrong plants for the wrong sites, overcrowding plants, and messing up garden timing. Read on for tips on how to avoid garden planning problems like these.

Planning a Garden Wisely

In order to avoid the most common garden design mistakes, you need to start with a walk-through of your backyard. Look at the exposure. Where do you get sun? What parts are shady? Is there wind blowing through? Do you have any erosion issues?

Also, note the existing structures on the property including sheds, trellises, fences, and walkways. Next, look at your soil (and do testing if needed) in order to be able to select appropriate plants. Only after you get an overview of your land can you start planning a garden wisely.

Garden Planning Mistakes

One of the most common garden planning mistakes is trying to put in a garden all at once. When you plant trees, shrubs, and garden beds all in a week’s time it’s easy to overcrowd your plants. That’s because it’s difficult to keep in mind the mature size of each new sapling and seedling.

Spacing is critical for garden design. If you don’t give appropriate space to your trees, shrubs, vines, and vegetables, they're not going to get the light, water, and nutrients they need to thrive.

Even in a veggie garden, you don’t want to toss all your seeds in and see which ones thrive. This won’t produce strong, healthy crops.

Some vegetables are warm-weather plants; others thrive in cool seasons. Vining veggies like squash need lots of room and won’t grow well squished into a small corner. Carrots, however, don’t need much room.

Take the time to pull together a planting calendar and sketch out your garden design. This will avoid many garden planning problems.

Work with the Environment

Every gardener can help save the environment by using an integrated pest management system to deal with garden pests, from snails to aphids. In order to do this, work with nature to keep down pest populations.

For example, you should only use pesticides as a last resort. Build in IPM methods like companion plantings, encouraging beneficial insects (including pest insect predators), and using physical barriers to protect your garden. 

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.