by Bob Dailey
There is a saying that one cannot be a good gardener if she (or he) has not killed at least a thousand plants. That said, there must be a large number of great gardeners in Montgomery County.
Gardening mistakes can be time consuming and ultimately costly. Correcting some of these mistakes may sound counterintuitive, but understanding and avoiding very common errors helps create healthier and more attractive lawns and gardens.
- Overwatering encourages shallow root systems, stresses plants, wastes water and increases their susceptible to disease and pests. Watering every day is one of the largest mistakes. Most plants (including lawns) go dormant during the fall and winter.
- Too much fertilizer can cause real problems in the landscape. Too much fertilizer may kill beneficial microbes in the soil, actually encourage disease and requires extra water. Additionally, fertilizer runoff is one of the largest polluters of our streams, waterways and esturaries.
- Kill all those bugs. The goal is to get the unwanted pests under control and the good ones encouraged. Using too much pesticide also kills beneficial soil organisms and the insects that
- Misdiagnosing a problem. Know thine enemy. Search the internet for answers or use the local master gardener hotline (936-539-7824) to identify the problem and possible solutions. There are probably a number of master gardeners in your area who would be happy to help you as well. Two good books are The Vegetable Book, a Texan’s guide to gardening, by Dr. Sam Cotner and Doug Welsh’s Texas Garden Almanac.
- Non-native or non-adapted plants. Azaleas – yes. Palms – no. Contact The Woodlands Township’s Environmental Services office for color brochures of native and adapted plants.
- Right plant but wrong place. Think and plan before planting.
- Not preparing soil before planting. Healthy soil = nutrients and beneficial microorganisms = healthy plants.
- No mulch. Mulch helps the soil retain moisture, keeps soil at a more constant temperature and discourages weeds.
- Planting at the wrong time. Plant trees in the winter when they are dormant. Don’t resod in the winter.
- Short-term thinking. How big is that little sapling going to get in five or 10 years? How much space will the one-gallon esperanza need in a couple of seasons?