Get Smart About Common Gardening Goofs

Avoid plant-related pitfalls with some sage advice.

Maintaining a beautiful garden is more than a way to increase curb appeal to your visitors and passersby; your efforts may also pay off when resale or rental time comes along. So how does your garden grow? Contrary to what many people believe, landscaping doesn’t require a magic touch. But it does call for a little TLC and heeding a few words of wisdom.

Here are some of the most common flora faux pas and how you can avoid them.

Zoning out. The United States is split up into gardening zones to help gardeners match plants with the climate they live in. To find out what zone you’re in, ask your local garden store or take a look at the USDA’s plant hardiness zone map. Stick to plants recommended for your zone.

Misjudging location. Do plants need a lot of sun or a lot of shade—or a little of both? Depends on what you’re growing. Read the tag that comes with the plant or look it up in a gardening guide. Give plants the right amount of sun exposure they need to thrive. Also be careful not to place plants too close together. Follow the spacing instructions to allow plants room to flourish fully.

Watering willy-nilly. Too much water can be just as bad for plants as too little. Daily watering is probably overdoing it, but just to be sure, stick your finger in the soil. Water when the soil is dry. Aim to water in the morning and give plants about an inch of water each time.

Zapping bugs. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as good bugs. Unless you suspect an infestation is really doing a number on your plants, don’t overdo it with pesticides. Ask a garden expert to take a look and follow his or her advice. Just remember that many insects, such as ladybugs, dragonflies, honeybees and ground beetles, are actually good for your garden.

Ignoring weeds. The sooner you yank weeds, the less likely it is that they’ll spread and strangle your plants. Pre-emergent products and mulch can help a lot, but you still need to be persistent about pulling weeds.

Fertilizing freely. Don’t just spread the same fertilizer everywhere. Learn what kind of fertilizer each plant needs, and follow directions on how much to use and how often. More isn’t always better.

Avoiding these mistakes will help your garden grow. The right landscaping can spruce up any home’s exterior, making it more appealing while you live there—and more attractive to potential buyers or

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