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. 

See: Small garden ideas – clever designs for maximizing a compact gardening space

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

Gardener Scott (opens in new tab) 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

‘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

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.

See: Monty Don shares his secret for getting rid of garden weeds – for good

4. We are impatient for results

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.

See: Wildlife garden ideas – how to attract the bugs we want and need in our gardens

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 (opens in new tab) on the mistakes we make for more pearls of wisdom.