Gardening Trials and Errors

Gardening Trials and Errors

Planning is key to a successful landscape. That said, adjusting your expectations — especially if you’re new to gardening — will make it more rewarding.

It's easy to get excited about gardening, but remember: planning is key to a successful landscape. With fall gardening just around the corner, I’m reflecting on some gardening lessons I’ve learned and sharing them with you.

Here are some things to help you adjust your expectations.

Belief: I’ll plant perennials close together so my landscape will look full right away.

Allow your plants space to grow — I’ll admit I’ve bought plants in smaller pot sizes, planted them too close together and later regretted it. Remember the old gardening adage: the first year plants sleep, the next year they creep and the third year they leap!

Belief: Stone paths and river rock landscaping mean I’ll never have to weed again.

The reality is weeds can make their way in as time goes by. These landscapes still require maintenance. Seeds blow in and settle between the stones. And then there’s nutsedge. Don’t let these plants get a toehold. My battle continues!

Belief: I can set-and-forget my irrigation system.

Broken heads, failing rain sensors, power outages — it’s best to keep an eye on your irrigation system. The controller can look intimidating, but don’t be afraid to get hands-on. It’s hot right now, but make sure to use the seasonal adjust feature if you have one to use less water during cooler seasons when your plants don’t need as much.

I don’t expect yard work to always be fun, but my lesson learned is the hard work is worth the rewards to my health and happiness. Hand-watering can be a relaxing time to enjoy your garden, spot some of the wildlife you’ve created habitat for and chat with neighbors.

Add an outdoor living space.

Spend some quality time with family and friends outdoors. Cook outside so you don’t heat up your kitchen. You can use the WaterSaver Landscape and Patioscape Coupons for this!

Choose plants that bring you joy.

Do you enjoy picking herbs to flavor your dishes? Or attracting butterflies to your yard? I’m always glad I planted mistflower – I love watching the queen butterflies float down to nectar on the blossoms in the fall. (This is another opportunity to use the WaterSaver Landscape and Patioscape Coupons!)

Garden for generations to come.

I know I'm thankful for the shade trees someone planted years ago, especially on these blazing hot summer days.

The next generation of monarch butterflies will appreciate if you plant milkweed, and why not plant some dill for you and the black swallowtail caterpillars to snack on.

Garden for generations to come, so our kids can not only learn about monarchs in school, but also have the chance to see their amazing life cycle and migration.

Create habitat for butterflies, birds, bees and other wildlife and invite the kids to help you! You’ll develop their sense of stewardship and connection to the natural world. And the best part of gardening? Our natural world is so diverse there’s always more to learn!

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Sasha Kodet

About our expert

Sasha Kodet

Sasha Kodet is a conservation planner whose large garden attracts a myriad of wildlife and curious neighbors with minimal water. At SAWS, Kodet develops outdoor programs to help people create their own beautiful, water-saving landscapes. She draws on her two decades of experience as a naturalist, botanical garden educator and event planner. Kodet enjoys (really) long walks in the woods and has thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail.