When you have gone to the effort of creating a home garden, you’re going to want to pull out all the stops to ensure your garden looks as good as possible throughout the year. For the most part, this means acknowledging that you’re going to have to work hard to maintain and care for every square foot of your outdoor space - gardens are time-consuming pleasures, but they are worth the sacrifice, and your hard work will be returned a thousand times over.
However, as wonderful as gardening is, there is no denying that managing a garden can sometimes… well… not provide particularly good returns. Most gardeners are more than happy to dedicate hours to weeding, trimming, tidying, and maintaining - but they do it in the expectation that their outdoor space will bloom with natural beauty, and provide a stunning vista, an Eden all of their own. This is the exchange, of course: you do the work, then you get the wonderful results.
Unfortunately, sometimes that equation - hard work = a beautiful garden - just doesn’t quite work out like that. There are many reasons this may be the case; poor weather, poor soil, or plants that were never going to thrive - but one of the major reasons for a garden that fails to deliver on its side of the bargain is one of the classic gardening mistakes: too much of a good thing.
Garden Mistakes: Too Much Of A Good Thing
What does ‘too much of a good thing’ mean?
Gardeners can generally agree that there are things and behaviors that constitute a “good thing” when maintaining a garden. For example, watering plants is considered to be a good thing, what with plants needing water to survive and often struggling to find the hydration they require during the summer months.
Another “good thing” is feeding and fertilizing plants. This helps plants to grow and develop; it helps to maintain the health of all the plants in your outdoor space and encourages that stunning bloom that every gardener aims for. As with watering plants, feeding and fertilizing are considered by gardeners to be inherently good decisions that will have great results for their garden space.
However… as with most areas of life, it genuinely is possible to have too much of those good things. Yes, watering is important, and most plants will require some element of feeding and fertilizing to be able to grow at their very best - but there is a limit. There is a point when a beneficial amount of water, food, and/or fertilizer becomes overwhelming, and starts actively causing harm rather than encouraging life and vitality.
Skeptical? You’re not alone; but if you read on, you’ll soon see that when it comes to caring for your garden, restricting “good things” may just be the best decision you have ever made…
Is it really possible to overwater your lawn and outdoor plants?
The simple answer here is: yes, absolutely. Plants, shrubs, and trees can all be over-watered, with symptoms of this including:
As well as plants, shrubs, and trees, your lawn itself can also be accidentally over-watered. Signs of this include:
What can you do about an over-watering?
If you have noticed any of the aforementioned signs of overwatering, there are two things you need to do next…
By rectifying the existing problem and preventing the issue from developing again, you can be sure you have complete control over the water needs of your home garden.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the second half of the “good thing” equation: feeding and fertilizing.
Why can over-feeding harm a plant or lawn?
When you feed or fertilize a plant or lawn, you are essentially providing it with nutrients. In the right amounts, those nutrients can be extremely beneficial. The plant will grow tall and strong as a result of the nutrients they have received, or your lawn will be robust and beautiful - these are the desired outcomes when feeding or fertilizing.
However, too much of a good thing is a concept that very much applies to this area of garden maintenance. Here’s a look at the signs that your plants or lawn are accidentally being overfed or fertilized:
How can I tell if overwatering or overfeeding and fertilizing is the problem?
Ultimately, you can’t: there’s no way of asking the plant to describe the cause of what ails it, and the symptoms of overwatering and overfeeding and fertilizing are remarkably similar. This can be confusing, but it can be helpful to change the way you think about the issue. Rather than seeing signs of ill health as a mystery you have to now begin to solve, see these signs of ill health as a signifier of a change of necessities. Clearly, something that you are doing isn’t working for your plant, so it will be helpful to overhaul your entire routine. You can examine both your watering regimen, and your feeding and fertilizing regimen - so it doesn’t really matter which of these areas has been problematic, as you’re now going to be able to fix both.
Can you cure an overfed or fertilized plant?
Sometimes. Unfortunately, the nutrients that are so useful for encouraging plant and lawn health can also be poisonous to plants if overused.
If the damage is limited, then careful watering and monitoring can help return a plant to its former glory.
In some cases, however, the plant or lawn will have been permanently damaged. This is particularly likely if you notice signs of chemical burning in the roots, which usually displays as blackened tips and withering. It is still worth trying to repair the damage, but prepare yourself for the fact the plant or lawn may never be able to recover. If in doubt, speak to a professional for their advice as to how you may be able to rectify the problem - but try to do this more in hope rather than expectation.
If you want to ensure that your efforts in your garden are rewarded, then sometimes, the best thing you can do is step back and let nature take its course. While using plant food, water, and other garden-friendly additions may seem like a sensible idea, the simple truth is that gardens can easily experience far too much of a good thing - so opt for the right systems to manage distribution of those good things, then step back, watch what happens, and only intervene further if there is clear need for such a step.
Of course, one of the benefits of a more “hands-off” approach is that you’ll be able to spend less time conducting garden chores - and more time enjoying your wonderful outdoor space!
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