So I ordered plants online and went happily shopping at local nurseries. Unfortunately, I made a lot of mistakes because I didn't know what I was doing. I paid for expensive shrubs that didn't survive a cold Connecticut winter, I planted Hostas that overtook an area garden, though I gave away most of the invasive Day Lillies and Russian Iris, I transplanted some only to wish I gave them away too. I also fell in love with plants that just don't go with our circa 1600 home nor the cottage garden theme of my area gardens, now I'm digging up the ethereal, even alien-looking Sea Holly that riveted my attention at Walmart a year ago. I also made the mistake of believing online descriptions and found the two Dappled Willows I planted would grow to be much BIGGER than promised, and I planted them too close together.
Due to my hard work, that resulted in some pretty area gardens, I've picked up a sideline business of weeding gardens of local residents who need help. In the past few jobs I've completed where I endured a bout of poison ivy so bad I looked like Porky the Pig, and a bee sting that left me feeling groggy; I've learned, the mistakes a newbie gardener makes are always the same. Below is my list of DO NOT DO'S that novices make and then their pretty area garden becomes a wretched mess too overwhelming to deal with.
1. Find out what the flowers are that seasoned gardeners hate. This list usually includes Day Lillies, fine for filling in a large area, BAD for area gardens. They over-naturalize and roots/bulbs get impacted, pulling these up are like pulling up thick blocks of cement. I also remembered how members of my local Garden Club groaned when someone mentioned Russian Iris, they get out of hand, FAST.
2. Stick with stand alone perennials, I think some novice gardeners buy invasive plants thinking it will grow fast, fill up space and Voila! instant garden. Instead the invasive shit takes over, in this case the Chameleon Plant groundcover that one customer planted, it totally destroyed her garden, and yellow jackets loved the stuff, this is how I got stung, wretched stuff. She bought other invasive plants and I dug them up tossed away and recommended she replace with Coneflower, Stonecrop, nice plants that are sturdy and don't take over and are drought tolerant.
sheet mulching! Lay down huge sheets of wet newspaper-(I also use cardboard and plastic bags too, better than that cheesy weed blocker fabric), the worms love it, then cover with mulch, great weed blocker and if some weeds do poke through, they're so easy to pull out! I used newspapers in hope of blocking any roots of invasive plants I overlooked in said customer's garden.
4. Don't plant flimsy stuff, I know some gardeners who like tall flowers that gently wave in the summer breeze, this is fine, but after a rainfall will flowers flop over and lie forlornly on the ground like fainting goats? Why plant something that can't withstand a little rain, or will need the assistance of an ugly stake?
5. Dirt should be brown not flowers. I'm not a fan of ferns that turn brown. Nothing is uglier than dried up flora. If your ferns are more brown, or anything that you plant dries up and turns ugly on you, yank them out and plant a drought tolerant perennial in it's place.
6. Stick with what works, rinse and repeat. Hydrangeas, Coneflowers, Stonecrop, Corabells, Hyssop, Hosta (The blue leaf variety has thicker leaves slugs can't chew through) do well in my yard, so I use them a lot, no need to show off how many different kinds of plants I can successfully grow, stick with what works. Keep your garden-scape design simple, don't get lured by colorful catalog pictures to buy all kinds of stuff. Also, Hydrangeas have a very long blooming season, I select plants that offer me color for as long as possible, after all I did the grunt work to get them into the ground, I want to be entertained for as long as possible.
7. If you don't know where to transplant or plant it, do what I do, create a space to harbor these plants until a plan forms in your mind. I have an area behind our barn, with pots where I stick the plants until I can figure out a place for them.
8. Don't plant ornamental grass that re-seeds to the point they take over, this too was a mistake a customer of mine made, I ended up digging the whole lot as again, a second area garden was overtaken with this stuff, to the point I discovered a lovely hidden rose bush. Another customer had non-bearing raspberry plants that I yanked out to find a gorgeous Japanese painted fern hiding underneath.
11. It's easy to want to plunk in colorful plants right away, but save some money for the bones of your yard, if you need privacy trees to screen a neighbor's driveway, or to cut traffic noise, be sure to budget for some in the beginning. I wish I had.
Cool and Exciting Gardening Ideas!
So there you have it! My tips to avoid huge pitfalls in your outdoor flora wonderland. Hopefully this post will also save you some money and trouble. Happy Gardening!