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Six common mistakes to avoid when planning a garden

Award-wining landscape gardener Mark Lane reveals the most common pitfalls to avoid when landscaping, planting and planning your garden.

Guest Author
Words by: Matilda Battersby


We all make mistakes. Especially when we’re trying something new.

Here to try and ward off the worst errors, award-wining landscape gardener Mark Lane offers a helping hand.

Wrong plant, wrong place

To get plants to flourish in your garden you need to know the conditions, the soil type and how much sun it will get.

Choosing a sun-loving plant for a shady corner will only result in the death of the plant.

Conversely, selecting a shade-loving plant, that needs constant moisture, and planting it in a sun-baked area of the garden means it will die.

So make sure you read your plant labels before getting your trowel out.

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Not checking your soil

It's important to know the pH of the soil, so that you can select the right plants for the conditions.

Don’t check the soil in just one place though, as you'll probably have varied pH levels throughout your garden.

Soil pH testers are available at most garden centres for around £6-7, or you can buy strips of litmus paper. Bundles of 160 strips can be bought for around £3.

Not keeping on top of the weeds

As the temperature starts to increase in the spring, with spring showers, not only will your plants be growing, but so will the weeds.

It’s paramount that you keep on top of the weeds right from the start, otherwise they will compete for food and light, resulting in your prized plants having to battle it out with the weeds, which normally win in the end. 

Not measuring your furniture

It’s important to measure your table and chairs when adding a patio or deck.

And if you're adding a patio or deck, make sure it's big enough for your table and chairs.

You'll need to measure the space with the chairs pulled out.

All too often, I see patios that are too small for garden furniture.

It’s always surprising how much more space you need in order to keep your chairs on firm ground.

Sowing all of the seeds

It’s tempting to sow all of the seeds in a packet, but:

(a) think about how many plants you want

(b) if growing vegetables, remember that a single plant may result in 5+ fruits or vegetables

Will you be able to eat all of the produce? A single cucumber plant can grow 10+ cucumbers.

If you sow 30 seeds that means you’ll get around 300 cucumbers in one year.

That’s a lot of cucumbers!

Sowing too densely

It’s important to leave space around each seed to allow the seedling to grow and to allow air to circulate around it.

If you plant too densely your seedlings may succumb to ‘damping off’ a fungal disease which kills your seedlings quickly and without mercy.

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