Gardening Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Overwatering to planting too tightly, are some of the most common gardening faux pas which are born from the best intentions; however, these mistakes can lead to plant stress or its demise. If you are like me you maybe making these common gardening mistakes.

Wrong Plant, Wrong Place

Solution: Choose plants suited to your climate (check plant tag and hardiness zone); plant them in the right sun exposure and soil type.

If you plant a shade-loving fern in the hot sun, there’s just no way it will thrive. The same goes for putting a sun-loving plant in dark shade or planting a dry-climate shrub in an area with heavy rainfall. While this may seem obvious, planting the wrong plant in the wrong place is one of the most common gardening miscalculations. If you make this mistake the plant will show signs of distress, such as yellowing or burnt leaves or little growth.

Choosing the right plant is important but can be challenging for beginer gardeners to get right.

A good place to start is to look up your climate zone. Look at the sun and shade pattern of the area you would like to plant as well as the soil type and moisture level. Cross-check with plant tags at your local nursery. A well-chosen plant, whether native or exotic, suited to your climate and site will need little care to thrive. A landscape designer can help choose plants that will grow well in your climate and garden. Use the expertise of your local nursery.

Forgetting About Soil Health

Solution: Enrich soil with compost before planting, and adopt practices that build healthy soil long term.

While we only see what happens aboveground, it’s what’s below the surface that feeds your plants.  Spend some time and effort into creating a rich, well-drained soil before putting any plants in the ground.

Do a basic soil test before planting to check soil pH and for the presence (or lack thereof) of essential plant nutrients and minerals. Then enrich the soil with high-quality compost and organic fertilizers to address any nutrient deficiencies.

To build healthy soil long term, avoid practices that strip the soil’s top layer and kills the beneficial organisms that help plants grow. Leave leaves below shrubs and trees or use high-quality mulch to keep soil protected. Avoid chemical-based fertilizers and pesticides that, if used incorrectly, can kill soil organisms.


Solution: Water according to plant needs. Allow soil to dry out between waterings.

Most plants don’t like sitting in water-logged soil, and overwatering, particularly if soil does not drain freely, can lead to root rot and plant death.

Overwatering is the most common mistakes gardeners make: too-frequent watering leads to lazy root growth. Overwatering makes plants too dependent on water and doesn’t allow them to establish deep roots. There is one exception to this rule: new plantings do need frequent consisten watering.

Check on plants regularly and give water when plants show signs of needing it.


Solution: Monitor plants’ water needs. Water young plants frequently; trees deeply.

Equally, little to no watering is a common problem. Signs of underwatering include wilting leaves, drooping branches and dry soil. Seedlings and young plants that have yet to establish root systems are the most vulnerable to drying out; water them often.

Large shrubs and trees require a good soaking when it is hot or windy. Set a hose on very low dribble and move it around the drip line of a tree for up to an hour.

Neglecting Weeds

Solution: Weed regularly, use mulch and choose plants that cover soil.

Weeding is always on a gardener’s to-do list, and it’s a rookie mistake to fall too far behind — particularly if you’ve recently planted a garden. Be vigilant in pulling weeds, especially when your plants are young, as weeds compete for both water and nutrients in the soil.

Weed by hand instead of using herbicides that can damage surrounding plants and soil microorganisms. Decrease weed spikes by covering bare areas of soil with bark mulch or choosing plants that fill in to form mats, which will naturally suppress weed growth.

Planting Too Closely

Solution: Space plants according to plant tags; estimate for three to five years’ growth for larger plants.

Overplanting and plants too close together is a common issue. Plant larger anchor plants for the garden with three to five years growth in mind (checking the plant tag for mature size and working backward to determine spacing) so the plants get correct light exposure and air circulation.

Overplanting and planting too close together can lead to plant diseases, uneven growth and the need to potentially pull out overgrown plants a year after planting.

Planting Too Far Apart

Solution: Space plants according to plant tags; avoid big empty spaces between larger plants, fill in with perennials and ground cover plants.

Planting plants too far apart raises different issues than planting too tightly. Plant plants so they grow next to each other like in nature. This suppresses weeds and keeps the soil cool. In short, plant close enough that there are not huge empty spaces. Or, fill in around large plants with perennials and low-growing ground covers.

Overpruning Shrubs

Solution: Start with the right size plant for your space; then, prune gently.

Overpruning by shearing the top and sides of a shrub can weaken the plant overall and make it more vulnerable to disease. It also leads to a dead, twiggy center, which can be difficult to rectify. Instead, prune gently and selectively, opening some areas to facilitate air flow.

Most overpruning stems from starting with a wrong-size shrub for its placement and use in the garden (think: wrong plant, wrong place). If you’d like a low-growing border hedge, for example, choose a dwarf shrub that will naturally stay small and you’ll run into fewer challenges than if you try to force a shrub that wants to be 8 feet tall to stay lower than 2 feet.

Mowing Lawns Too Short in Summer

Solution: Raise lawn mower blades to 3 inches in warm seasons; skip mowing during heat waves.

Mowing too short in the summer months and scalping the lawn to dirt is a misjudgment. Mowing when it’s too hot or dry and mowing too short are the most common problems. Allow the lawn to grow longer between mowings, skip mowing when it’s hot and dry and avoiding cropping too short can boost lawn health. Lawn mower blades should be raised to 3 inches high during the warm season.

Making Mulch Volcanoes

Solution: Keep a mulch-free ring (think moat, not volcano) around the trunks of trees and mature shrubs.

While mulch can be helpful at keeping weeds at bay in bare areas, it should not be piled up around tree trunks to form what some people call a mulch volcano.

When the mulch gets wet, it can lead to decay in the bark, which then exposes the plant to diseases. Instead, keep mulch pulled back from the trunks of trees, shrubs and woody perennials, avoiding contact between mulch and bark.

Reaching for Pest Sprays Too Quickly

Solution: Allow beneficial insects to arrive; use sprays as a last resort.

Seeing a cluster of aphids on your favorite rose may have you diving for the insecticide spray. But intervening too quickly doesn’t allow time for beneficial insects to arrive and intervene. Ladybugs, for example, make short work of aphids.

Instead of relying on pesticides, try to establish strong, healthy plants, that can withstand a nibble, and grow companion plants that attract bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects.

If you do want to use pesticides, always follow the instructions on the box and use protective gear.


Solution: Follow instructions on the box; stick to organics; prioritize soil health.

It’s natural to think that if giving some fertilizer can help plants grow, giving more will make them thrive. This isn’t the case with synthetic-based fertilizers. Overdoing it can have harmful effects, such as giving chemical “burns” to plant roots or leaves, killing soil microorganisms and causing spikes in plant diseases.

Enhance planting beds with compost and organic fertilizers before planting and you’ll have little need for fertilizing.

For lawns, focus on improving soil quality. If you want to use fertilizers, use organic.

Leaving Trees Staked Too Long

Solution: Remove tree stakes after one or two years.

Some trees are planted with stakes to help them grow straight. While stakes can be helpful for the first few years, after that point, it is unnecessary at best and potentially detrimental to the tree at worst. Stakes are really only necessary for trees growing in exposed, windy sites.


I have sold a property at 4743 HOTEL LAKE RD in Garden Bay
I have sold a property at 4743 HOTEL LAKE RD in Garden Bay.
Pender Harbour view home steps from Hotel Lake! This 3484 sq. ft. home has options for everyone! Enjoy open living on the main floor with lots of windows and deck space to take in the view. Upstairs is the master, 2 other bedrooms and a sunken family/flex room. Downstairs is currently being used as an artist/hobby space with lots of windows, and indoor workshop, a den/office and another large flex space. Use as is or convert to a beautiful in-law mortgage helper suite. Outside is plenty of extras as well! Outdoor stone wood oven, greenhouse, garden, covered woodshed/carport and a covered boat storage. Book a showing today!

To Fix or Not To Fix: Prepping For A Sale

When you make the decision to sell your home, it can be tricky to know which changes will make your home sell more quickly or boost the sale price — and which would be a waste of time and resources. Each property is different; here are some key questions to ask yourself before making any changes to prep your home for sale.

General Questions

These questions will help you take the temperature of the real estate market in your area and assess the competition.

How Hot or Cold Is Your Market?

Are homes being snapped up after the first showings, or are they languishing on the market for months? Are homes being sold at or near the asking price, or for much lower? Are showings bustling with people, or are few looking? Get a feel for the market in your area by calling me and checking local listings. If it’s a seller’s market, you may be able to get away with doing fewer repairs and modifications before selling, and still have good results — in a buyer’s market, expect to do more work to make a positive impression on buyers.

How Fast Are You Looking To Sell? 

If you need to sell your home immediately — say, because you have already committed to buying another home or need to move because of work — it is in your best interest to do everything in your power to ensure a quick sale at the highest price possible. If you have more flexibility, and you feel uncomfortable making too many pricey changes to your home before selling, it may make more sense to focus on cleaning, decluttering and making small cosmetic changes, like painting — particularly if the market is hot and favors the seller. If you aren’t getting the offers you would like, you can always decide to spring for a few bigger changes later and relist your home.

What Is The Condition of Comparable Homes? 

It can be quite helpful to know a little about the homes that buyers in your area are looking at. Examine photos of homes for sale in your area or even attend a few showings, and make a mental note of how the other homes compare to yours. Are the kitchens updated? Are the floors in good shape? If all of the other homes you see have a certain feature, for instance, an updated kitchen, that yours lacks, consider making that a priority. You don’t need to make your home exactly like all the other homes on the market; just make sure there isn’t a single factor that could give your home a disadvantage.

To Fix or Not to Fix: Which Repairs Are Worth It

The next questions will help you assess whether or not to make a specific repair or change before selling your home.

Does The Item Give The Impression The Property Has Not Been Well Cared For?

Leaky faucets, cracked tiles, an overgrown lawn, broken appliances or anything else that doesn’t work as it should can immediately turn off buyers. At a first showing, people often zip through quite quickly, and if they notice one or two things that send up red flags, they may not give your home another chance.

Can You Find a Less Expensive Fix? 

Let’s say you scoped out the comparable homes on the market in your neighborhood, and they all have updated kitchens but yours hasn’t been touched for some time. Rather than spend big on a full kitchen remodel, why not give your kitchen a less costly refresh? For instance, you could paint the cabinets, swap out cabinet hardware, change the light fixtures and upgrade the appliances to something current and functional but not top-of-the-line. You will put some money into it but not nearly as much as with a full remodel — well worth it if it gets your home in the running in a competitive market.

How Much Will You Realistically Need to Lower The Price If You Don’t Fix It? 

If you have a lot of costly repairs to tackle to get your home ready to sell, you may be considering selling it as is. But keep in mind that buyers looking for a fixer-upper will also be looking to discount the selling price for the repairs plus the hassle. In other words, you won’t be able to simply estimate how much the repairs will cost and deduct that from the selling price; you’ll need to deduct even more to make it worth the buyer’s time and effort. Discuss this with me and look into other fixer-uppers for sale in your area to come up with an appropriate selling price.

Is It One of The First Things Potential Buyers Will See? 

First impressions are key, and that is never more true than in the real estate business. If you have a repair you are unsure about tackling, use this as a litmus test: Is it something the buyer will see as he or she approaches your house and walks through the front door? If so, fix it.

Could It Be a Deal Breaker? 

Some home repairs, like a new roof, are just so major that they will scare off all but the most determined buyers. If the market in your area is hot and you have ample time, there’s no harm in trying to sell without making the big repair, as long as you are willing to price it accordingly. If it’s a buyer’s market but you don’t have time to make the repair before listing, you could offer to pay for it as part of the sales agreement — otherwise it’s probably best to make the change first and then put your home on the market.


New property listed in Nelson Island, Sunshine Coast
I have listed a new property at DL 1020 SOUTH OF THE SOUTH BOUNDARY OF LOT A in Nelson Island.
Want to get away from it all? Be completely off grid? Just a short boat ride from Garden Bay or Earls Cove. This beautiful 95.7 acre property located on Nelson Island in Green Bay has it all. Own a 1/4, 1/2 or 3/4 share of this amazing property. 1500 feet of Low bank waterfront, on which to build your dream house/cabin or be nestled in the forest or perhaps you prefer a lake front cottage. The property boasts a 20 acre lake, a fabulous waterfall, a 90 foot dock with crabbing, prawning and fishing at your door step. It has a rudimentary road system, so bring your golf cart or small jeep to get around. Welcome to supernatural BC!

Ticks and The Great Outdoors

Deer ticks can be vectors for Lyme Disease. The great outdoors is a refuge. Getting outside for some exercise is one of the few activities still permitted amid the current provincial shut downs. But as the warmer temperatures return, so does the hazard posed by ticks. Ticks are out already.There are a lot of people finding ticks on themselves and their pets as they're out and enjoying the trails.

Ticks can be anywhere, including backyards. Usually, they hang out on top of long grass or in the bushes, and as people or animals walk by they jump onto them and bite — often without the victim even knowing it.

Therefore, It's really important that when you come back in, you just do a full body check to make sure you or your pets don't have any ticks on them. Ticks can spread disease through their bites. One tick in particular, the blacklegged or deer tick, spreads Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

The tell-tale sign is a bullseye-shaped rash. Symptoms of Lyme disease, whick usually appear between 3 to 30 days after a bite, include fever, chills, fatigue and muscle pain. Lyme disease can potentially harm systems the heart, nerves and liver. Symptoms from untreated Lyme disease can last years and include recurring arthritis and neurological problems, numbness, paralysis and, in very rare cases, death.

Most tick that carry Lyme disease in BC are found in southwestern BC, including Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, the Sunshine Coast, Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

Only about 1% of ticks carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. They can be found year-round but they are most likely to bite from March to June.

To protect yourself from ticks: walk on cleared trails, wear light coloured clothing so you can see them, tuck your pants into your socks or boots, check for ticks once you return home. If you find a tick, remove it immediately, check children, pets and outdoor gear, put clothing in a hot dryer for 10 minutes to kill any possible ticks.

When removing a tick make sure you remove all its parts. If it hasn’t burrowed completely you can remove it yourself. If it has buried itself deep into your skin, it’s a good idea to get it removed by a doctor. 

You can get a tick tested for Lyme disease, but it will cost you money unless it is submitted by a physician. 

Enjoy our beautiful trails, but when you are out there stay out of high grass and keep your pets out of it too. 

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