So You Think You Want to Take Up Gardening? What NOT to do!


When I was a little girl I absolutely hated having to go with my mum to the garden centre.

Being dragged around a place full of boring old plants was certainly not my idea of fun, but dragging us around the garden centre (for what sometimes felt like hours!) was indeed what my mum would do.

In order to keep me behaving myself I sometimes got to choose the new miniature rose for the garden (this would entertain me for approximately 10 minutes), a stone or bark animal that I swore they sold simply to keep bored children amused (and it worked … for a further 10 minutes) and the rest of the time was spent with my sister and I moaning ‘How much longer? This is boring!’.

And now here I am! History is indeed repeating itself.

Apparently my mother announced to her mother when she was in her 20’s that she was never going to have a garden. Gardens had dirt and bugs. These two things were certainly not her cup of tea being the ultra feminine girly girl that she was!

I followed suit with that sentiment.

Likewise I was never going to get into gardening. Plants and I were not great friends. I once was given an indoor pot plant and it grew and grew. Rather than die it was the plant that never stopped growing. One day my father-in-law found me trimming it back. I was cutting the ‘sticks’ sticking out of the pot that turned out to be the roots of the plant that were growing out of the pot because the pot was way too small to accommodate it! I’m happy to say that it survived and lives on in my mother-in-laws house (after my father-in-law removed it from my care) taking up one whole wall of their bedroom all the way to the ceiling! It’s a mega plant.

I did that.

We lived in our house for years without planting anything except some sad looking pot plants that never took off. Then last year I suddenly got the bug. I wanted trees. And flowers. Lots and lots of pretty flowers!

That’s right folks! I discovered Pinterest! Hundreds of gorgeous pictures of beautiful English gardens full of flowers. I wanted one. And so I set to work making one.

My husband didn’t want a bar of it so I was on my own. I got out there over summer and I dug my own garden right out of the lawn and I planted it all by myself.

That weird wooden thing WAS an attempt at a vege garden way back when.
The garden that I slaved away to make all by myself. I had visions of an English garden with flowers and planned to make use of the vege patch …
And this is now … WEED MAT PEOPLE! WEED MAT! A husband who actually likes to mow the lawn is also an added bonus!

As you can see, I learnt a thing or two in the process that I will now share with you my dear eager new gardening pal, you!

Here are some do’s and dont’s for starting your first garden, all of which I have learnt from experience!

All those don’ts? I did. All those do’s? I didn’t.

Don’t make the same mistake! Or you too will be the proud owner of a weed riddled, pumpkin infested spider garden!


DO properly dig the ground where you want your garden to go, removing all of the lawn and weeds to a decent depth to allow topping up with a good compost. I know it’s boring and you just want to go shopping for the fun part but it’s important because all those plants? They won’t grow if the soil is crap.

DON’T cut corners and think ‘she’ll do’. This will come back to bite you in the ass.

DO put down weed mat. DO PUT DOWN WEED MAT! Oh how I wish I could go back and fix this dreadful new timer mistake! You can also put down cardboard or newspaper under layers of soil to stop the weeds. I didn’t do this. Big mistake #1!

DO put bark or stones or something in the garden to keep it easy care. Like this (my one garden that I did right the first time!)

This one still looks like this except for the plants are bigger. This is what you want! Not like my other one which is now a jungle of epic proportions, so much so you can no longer see the bricks around the border!

DON’T rush out and buy heaps of plants just because you think they look pretty. Do your research first. Know how big they grow and what type of garden they suit. Buying the wrong plants is an expensive lesson to learn. Yep, mistake #2! I had no idea and wasted so much money on unsuitable plants that didn’t last longer than a month.

DO know the difference between evergreen and deciduous; perennial, biennial and annual. Here’s a brief outline for ya:

  • Evergreen: An evergreen is a plant that has leaves throughout the year, always green.
  • Deciduous: A plant that completely loses their foliage during the winter
  • Perennial: A perennial plant is a plant that lives for more than two years. Some of these plants will die away in Winter but return the following Spring.
  • Biennial: A plant which blooms in its second year and then dies.
  • Annual: An annual plant is a plant that completes its life cycle, from germination to the production of seed, within one year, and then dies. Summer annuals germinate during spring or early summer and mature by autumn of the same year.

DO buy gardening gloves. Getting dirt out from under your nails is a bitch!

DON’T go overboard and dig a huge garden or multiple gardens straight away! Start small.

DO realise that gardens have bugs living in them. Spiders, worms, creatures you have probably never seen before. If you have boys then be aware that they quite like to chase you with worms because that’s their gig. If you live in Australia then some of these things may actually kill you.

If you are wanting trees then DO buy them and plant them first. We waited 8 years to plant our trees! 8 years of growing time down the drain.

DO buy shrubs! Again, some may consider them boring but bigger shrubs behind the pretty flowers look way better than no shrubs.

DON’T be afraid of wasting money on annuals! I had it in my head to only buy perennials because spending money on annuals only for them to die after 6 months seemed dumb. But annuals grow easily and flower profusely compared to perennials and buying in punnets of 6-8 is cheap and they put on a great show!

DON’T ignore the weeds. Just don’t. We live across the road from a farm in a windy coastal area and by god do we get weeds. So many weeds! I ignored them all winter and now I have a gigantic mess on my hands.

DO know the difference between what is a weed and what is an edible fancy lettuce. DON’T taste the weed to see if it’s actually a lettuce. They taste the same. If in doubt DON’T eat it.

DO know that pumpkins grow HUGE. Plant pumpkin seeds in moderation. Do not plant the seeds of an entire pumpkin unless you want to strangle your garden with vines.

DO start with container gardening and buy good potting mix. I wish I had started and stopped with pots sometimes! The containers on my deck are all going really well this year and I love pottering around in them, combining flowers to fill them to overflowing and bring some greenery and colour to my outdoor living.

How my pots are coming along and it’s not even summer yet. Love container gardening!

DON’T decide that you think you can recreate a dry creek bed just because they look awesome on Pinterest.

DON’T plant in the vicinity of small children. Those flowers you just planted? They’ll be pulled back out in 3 … 2 … 1. ‘I helping mummy garden! See!’ *Little hands proudly holding up the plants you just spent an hour planting*

And that my friends is about it for now! I hope this helps some newly budding gardener somewhere somehow!

Are you into gardening? Would you agree with my list? Does you garden currently look like mine?

Linking up with #IBOT @ Essentially Jess

Let's Talk Mommy

39 thoughts on “So You Think You Want to Take Up Gardening? What NOT to do!

  1. In the last year or so, my husband has become very involved in gardening. We have a veggie patch out the front which gives us carrots, potatoes, beans and bok choy. He’s now trying his hand at watermelon. Down the side we have orange, lime and lemon trees, a strawberry patch and blueberries. We also have beautiful Jasmine creeping up the side of the house. He puts a lot of effort into it. It’s his down time and his thing I guess 🙂
    Renee recently posted…Woman found in possession of clothes ironMy Profile

  2. A weed mat, a revelation! We have inherited a very tropical garden in our new home which I’m not even going to attempt to do anything with other than collect the fallen palm branches (they come crashing down in the middle of the night scaring that pants off you) but I did just buy a “vertical” garden so that I can have some herbs near the kitchen. I need the builders to help drill it into the wall though so the pots have been planted and sitting all over the ground – husband also has zero interest in that!
    Vicki @ Boiled Eggs & Soldiers recently posted…In My Kitchen – November, discovering food in the Tropical North & some celebrationsMy Profile

    1. I’ve seen vertical gardens on the Aussie Block, seems to be a popular choice over there! They look cool. Not too keen on the falling palm leaves but a tropical garden sounds bloody nice!

  3. My Mum was/is exactly the same. Gardening is her life! I hated it when I was younger. I don’t mind it now, but I really find it’s easier to wait for her to come visit for the holidays and she gets stuck into my garden. She leaves me instructions and then just hopes for the best. I am quite shit at gardening, but a hell of a lot better than I used to be 🙂

  4. We rent, so it’s pot planting for us. That said, there are truly lovely lovely gardens front and back. That said also, the people who planted it planted too many big trees in too small an area and that means that a lemon tree in the backyard and a grevillea in the front have died from more thirsty trees on either side of them sucking up all of the water, so there’s another tip, the trees may be small when you plant them, but bear in mind what size they will grow to.
    Dani @ sandhas no home recently posted…She Sells SunshineMy Profile

    1. Yep, I just planted two trees and discovered they can grow up to 13m tall! Having said that, trees grow at the pace of snails around here with the rock we are on (we live on a cliff pretty much, dig down too far and you hit solid stone) so I doubt they will get to 3m, let alone 13m! You must live on fertile soil 🙂 I planted a lemon tree on the weekend, in a pot!

  5. I do love gardening but it is SO time consuming to get it right. All of your tips are really good, but it’s that diligence of a ‘little each day’ that keeps us on top of things… or not as the case may be. I’m good at keeping the weeds out of the vegie patch, but the rest of the garden looks like a tip. x
    Maxabella recently posted…A bedtime routine for non-sleepersMy Profile

    1. Me too, seemed like a waste of time to me! Then I found myself eating weeds do perhaps not! Weeds my dear, not to be mistaken with weed 😉

  6. Ohhhh I am relating to this so hard. I love the “picking out the plants and putting them in my garden” part but I ABSOLUTELY DESPISE WEEDING. And because I hate it, I leave until it’s such a massive job that I don’t want to touch it. I’ve spent loads of time and money on my garden but now it’s covered in weeds and I can’t be bothered. I need a minder…
    Meagan Kerr recently posted…Gift Guide: Book LoversMy Profile

  7. Oh Pinterest has a lot to answer for! I have great ideas for our garden and plants and all that but I am not a green thumb, I just get the enthusiasm going and let hubby try to manage keeping it all alive when I lose interest or bring something to the brink. I don’t know, I think you did rather well,English gardens are all rambling aren’t they 🙂 #TeamIBOT
    Malinda @mybrownpaperpackages recently posted…How to have a balanced lifeMy Profile

  8. I am literally the worst gardener, okay, second worst after my mum. She can kill unkillable plants. My hubby, on the other hand, has a green thumb and understands the ins and outs of establishing a garden. I love when he does but I never feel the urge to get out there and join him!
    Becky from BeckyandJames recently posted…A week gallbladder freeMy Profile

    1. I’d hate weeding if I lived in Australia too, who knows what’s going to jump out and bite you! Maybe I need some chooks … we have two adopted wild ducks that hang out at our place but they prefer luncheon …

  9. Fantastic garden advice I have been there and done all those do’s and don’ts too. Bless you. It’s a never ending battle with weeds isn’t it? Thank you for linking up to Share With Me and I hope to see you again tomorrow for another great round. #sharewithme
    Jenny recently posted…Letters to him & her ~ #35My Profile

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