5 gardening mistakes that spoil our gardens – and really frustrate us

These gardening mistakes are easy to keep making year after year; Gardener Scott give his tips for eliminating them and enjoying a better garden

gardening mistakes
(Image credit: Future)

Everyone can relate to the top gardening mistakes identified by Gardener Scott – because we've all made them. Many of us are probably still making them even after years of gardening. In fact, Colorado-based Gardener Scott explains in a recent video that he considered himself 'a new gardener for many years because I just kept making mistakes'. 

The gardening expert cautions gardeners against having 'grand visions for their garden space' and then giving up when 'it's too hard'. Instead, he says, 'gardening is a process' and is all about 'the doing, the learning', and 'overcoming problems'. 

Overcome these most common gardening mistakes, and yours really will look like the backyard of your dreams. 

1. We don't pay enough attention to the soil

Kitchen garden ideas - carrots

(Image credit: Miracle Gro)

Gardener Scott is very clear on this: the quality of your soil will make or break your garden. 

He says: '80% of plant problems can be traced to your soil. Ideally, your soil should be 45% mineral content, 25% air, 25% water, 5% organic matter.' 

Too few gardeners know this and instead focus on only one thing: just watering, or just fertilzing. 

'These things need to work together', he says, so always follow this formula, and then 'with good soil, you'll have good plants'.

See: Kitchen garden ideas: easy ways to get started

2. We're trying to eliminate all bugs

Gardening mistakes - garden with grasses in the sun

(Image credit: Mark Bolton Photography)

'Bugs happen,' says Gardener Scott in his typically laidback way. He recalls his own early gardening years when he sprayed his garden with insecticide all time, ending up with an imbalanced garden. 

'Spraying will kill the bad and the good bugs, and then new bad bugs are ready to move in and can devastate your garden,' he continues. Unless you have a serious infestation, 'try not to worry about insects' in your garden and just let them be.

  • See: Rewilding: 10 ways to rewild your garden

3. We're obsessing over weeding

Gardening mistakes: Californian lilac

(Image credit: Future)

Scott says that he has known gardeners who completely gave up just because they couldn't eliminate all the weeds in their garden. This is a futile quest, because 'weeds will win,' he says. 

If you focus too much on them, 'you will go crazy'; instead, 'use mulch as it cuts down on the weeds dramatically' and accept the fact that you'll have to do some mechanical pulling every year, even if you don't enjoy it. 

Use companion planting to keep weeds under control (not eliminate them), and 'let some of the weeds grow' – they are beneficial for wildlife in your garden.

4. We are impatient for results

Gardening mistakes

(Image credit: Mark Bolton Photography)

Gardener Scott cautions gardeners against the 'want it now' syndrome. Many gardeners spend a lot of money to get the garden perfect 'this year', and then get discouraged when it doesn't turn out how they had envisioned it. 

Especially if you're growing trees, 'it may be three, even five years' before you see the results you want, he says, but that's the essence of the gardening experience. 

'Don't be in a such a rush', coaches Scott, your garden is 'something to enjoy along the way'. 

Don't get mature plants that are unsuitable for your garden aspect or soil, for example – instead, take the time to work out what will grow best.

5. You can't accept failure

Sometimes a wet summer will ruin your gardening plans, other times it'll be an overly cold winter. 'Many years there'll be more failures than successes,' Scott says. 

Sometimes you'll have failed crops or dying plants for more than a year in a row, but 'failure is just the price we pay for being gardeners'. 

See: Cottage garden ideas: pretty ways to create the look

If your gardening failures are getting you down, don't give up; instead, share your stories with other gardeners. 'Maybe someone has had that successful season' and can share their tips with you,' he concludes.

See Gardener Scott's video on the mistakes we make for more pearls of wisdom.

Anna K. Cottrell is now a freelance writer, having previously been a Content Editor for Future's homes titles. She writes about interior design, property, and gardening. On H&G, she specialized in writing about property – buying, selling, renting – sustainability and eco issues.