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Save Your Spring By Avoiding These Common Gardening Mistakes


Grandparents gardening with their grandaughter. Potting a small plant.Grandparents gardening with their grandaughter. Potting a small plant.

Hey there, fellow plant enthusiasts! Spring has sprung (or is about to!), and with it comes the irresistible urge to dig in the dirt and get our gardens growing. But hold on a sec – before you grab your trowel and seed packets with reckless abandon, let’s talk about some common springtime gardening mistakes that can leave your green haven less than flourishing.  By avoiding these 12 pitfalls, you’ll be well on your way to a thriving, vibrant garden that’ll make you the envy of the block!

Bringing Potted Plants Out Too Early

Choosing the Wrong PlantsChoosing the Wrong Plants

We all get excited to see our house plants bask in the sunshine again, but patience is key! Wait until nighttime temperatures consistently reach at least 50°F (10°C) before bringing your potted friends outdoors permanently. To ease the transition, “harden them off” by gradually introducing them to outdoor elements on warm, sunny days. Bring them back in at night until all danger of frost has passed.

Choosing the Wrong Plants

Choosing the Wrong PlantsChoosing the Wrong Plants

Not all plants are created equal, especially when it comes to climate. Resist the urge to buy solely on looks!  Research your planting zone (usually found online with a quick zip code search) to ensure you’re selecting plants that will thrive in your specific climate. Local garden centers are also a great resource for zone-appropriate recommendations.

Forgetting to Clean Containers

Portrait of cheerful female gardeners working in home garden holding seeds in palm and planting seeds in peat pots on wooden deck tablePortrait of cheerful female gardeners working in home garden holding seeds in palm and planting seeds in peat pots on wooden deck table

Spring cleaning isn’t just for the house!  Those pots overflowing with dead plant debris from last season need some TLC too.  Empty them out, rinse them thoroughly, and check for cracks. You can even disinfect them with a 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water) to remove any lingering pathogens. Clean containers will give your new plants the best possible start.

Forgetting to Prep Raised Beds

Forgetting to Prep Raised BedsForgetting to Prep Raised Beds

Just like houseplants, your raised beds deserve some spring cleaning.  Remove any leftover plant material and weeds, then add a few inches of fresh, organic matter like compost. Mix it all together to create a nutrient-rich growing environment for your new spring plants.  Don’t forget to add mulch around the raised bed to suppress weeds and retain moisture.

Forgetting to Prep Water Tools

Forgetting to Prep Water ToolsForgetting to Prep Water Tools

Spring is the perfect time to check your watering arsenal.  Inspect hoses, sprinklers, and watering cans for leaks, cracks, or clogs. Fix any minor issues or replace worn-out equipment.  Lay out your soaker hoses once you see signs of new growth to ensure even watering throughout the garden.

Ignoring Weeds

Ignoring WeedsIgnoring Weeds

Those pesky weeds can steal precious water and nutrients from your desired plants. Don’t wait until they take over!  Pull them by hand regularly, focusing on removing them before they set seed.  For larger areas, consider using a pre-emergent weed control specifically formulated for your garden beds. Remember, these products typically target germinating seeds, so avoid using them in areas where you plan to sow seeds directly.

Mismanaging Your Watering

Mismanaging Your WateringMismanaging Your Watering

Spring is a crucial time for watering, as plants recover from winter dormancy and begin new growth. Once temperatures rise above 40°F (4°C), you can start watering your garden beds. The key is to water deeply and infrequently, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings.  Overwatering can lead to root rot, so be mindful and adjust your watering frequency based on the weather and your specific plants’ needs.

Not Prepping Soil

Not Prepping SoilNot Prepping Soil

Whether you’re planting in raised beds or directly in the ground, prepping your soil is essential.  Spring is the perfect time to loosen compacted soil, break up large clumps, and add organic matter like compost or aged manure. This will improve drainage, aeration, and nutrient content, giving your plants a strong foundation for healthy growth.

Planting Too Close Together

Planting Too Close TogetherPlanting Too Close Together

It’s tempting to cram as many plants as possible into your garden beds, but resist the urge!  Each plant variety has a mature size, so refer to the spacing recommendations on seed packets or plant labels.  Planting too close together can hinder airflow, increase competition for resources, and even encourage the spread of diseases.

Planting Too Early

Planting Too EarlyPlanting Too Early

Spring fever might have you itching to get planting, but patience is key!  Wait until the danger of frost has completely passed and soil temperatures reach at least 50-60°F (10-15°C) for most plants. Planting too early in cold soil can stunt growth or even kill seedlings.

Skipping Compost

Skipping CompostSkipping Compost

Compost is a gardener’s gold! This nutrient-rich amendment provides essential vitamins and minerals to your soil, promoting healthy plant growth and improved moisture retention.  In the spring, add a few inches of compost to your garden beds or around the base of individual plants for an extra boost.  You can find compost at most garden centers or local landscaping companies.

Skipping Spring Clean Up

Skipping Spring Clean UpSkipping Spring Clean Up

Don’t underestimate the power of a good spring cleaning in your garden!  Just like your home, your garden beds benefit from a thorough tidying up after winter.  Remove any leftover leaves, branches, or debris that might harbor pests or diseases.  Prune any dead or damaged plant material to encourage new growth.  Think of it as giving your garden a fresh start for the spring season!


There you have it, fellow plant enthusiasts! Armed with this knowledge and a dash of spring sunshine, you’re well on your way to a thriving garden that’ll be the envy of the neighborhood. Remember, gardening is a journey, not a destination. Embrace the unexpected, celebrate the successes (big and small!), and don’t be afraid to get a little dirt under your fingernails. Happy planting, and may your spring garden flourish beyond your wildest dreams!


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