Did you know that 76% of Americans with a yard consider it one of the most vital parts of their home? So, it’s no wonder roughly the same percentage (72%) say a yard is at the top of their wish list should they look for a new home.
After all, a yard lets you connect with nature in the comfort and safety of your home. It also enables you to enjoy gardening, which can aid in preventing osteoporosis. Gardening can even help improve your mental health.
However, you might feel stressed instead if you commit common gardening errors. That’s because many of these mistakes can damage your lawn and plants.
To that end, we created this guide discussing the most common gardening blunders. Read on to discover what they are so you can avoid committing them yourself.
A soil’s pH is a measurement of its acidity or alkalinity. It ranges from 0 to 14, with 0 to below 7.0 being acidic and anything above that being alkaline. A pH of 7.0, in turn, is neutral, meaning it’s neither acidic nor alkaline.
Too acidic soils can deprive plants of calcium, magnesium, and potassium. By contrast, too alkaline soils can cause plants to be deficient in iron, boron, manganese, or zinc. Either way, these imbalances can affect plant growth or even kill them.
For those reasons, it’s wise to test your garden soil’s pH if this is your first time planting. You can conduct a test with an easy-to-use home soil testing kit.
Once you have the results, the next step is to consider what you’re planting. Most plants thrive in soil with a pH of 6 to 7.5. Likewise, beneficial earthworms and microorganisms prefer that range.
However, some plants, including blueberries and azaleas, like acidic soils (pH 5 to 5.5). Others, like asparagus and lavender, prefer soil with slight alkalinity.
If your soil is too acidic, you can increase its pH with a liming material, such as powdered lime or limestone. On the other hand, if it’s too alkaline, you can decrease its pH with organic materials, compost, or manure. Sulfur and aluminum sulfate can also reduce alkalinity.
Plant roots will only spread and grow deep enough if the soil is rich, soft, and well-aerated. Without these soil qualities, plants won’t grow and be productive.
Thus, only plant something in your garden after you’ve prepared the soil.
The first step in preparing garden soil is clearing out rocks, debris, or weeds. Then, use a spade to free up a handful of soil and squeeze that chunk of dirt with one hand. If it remains balled up, the soil is too wet; if it’s powdery or has large clumps, it’s too dry.
What you’re looking for is soil that crumbles freely. In this case, you can proceed to plow or spade the area.
After plowing or spading, inspect the earth and remove any rocks or debris you see. Next, break down larger clumps with a garden fork or hand cultivator. Finally, add two to three inches of organic matter, such as compost or aged manure, to the soil.
Once you’ve completed soil preparation, you can start planting.
The world is home to 250,000 plant species, 3%, or about 8,000 of which classify as “weeds.”
Weeds are undesirable plants for gardens because they grow where they aren’t wanted. They compete with other plants for nutrients, sunlight, water, and space.
Some weeds, like dandelions, already have live roots implanted in the soil. These are what you call perennial weeds. Since they’re already alive, they can grab resources as soon as they become available.
That’s how weeds often outgrow other plants, especially those that have to start from seed. Even worse, they can grow better than and kill your precious plants.
For the same reason, never make the mistake of ignoring any weed you see. Instead, remove them by pulling or digging them out from their roots.
Another reason to eliminate weeds is that they attract lawn pests. Examples are grasshoppers, beetles, and moths, which feed on almost all types of plants.
Mowing at least once a week should be a critical task on your garden maintenance checklist. It’s vital because it ensures your grass is at an appropriate length. Correct turf length or height, in turn, promotes proper plant photosynthesis.
If allowed to grow too long, the bottom of each grass blade won’t receive enough sunlight. That’s because the blade’s highest sections may cast a shadow over them. Their tips may also overlap the lowest areas of the leaves next to them.
Over time, that can result in the sunlight-deprived areas of the grass turning yellow. It won’t be long before they completely turn brown and die.
Also, unkempt grass attracts pests. After all, the more leaf surface, the more food critters can eat.
Some pests, like fleas and ticks, also love to hide within long grass blades and leaf litter. Fleas can cause allergy dermatitis in dogs and cats but can also bite humans. Ticks are also dangerous; they can spread at least five known diseases.
Overwatering can drown turf grass and plants and trigger root rot. The excess water not absorbed by the plants can also attract weeds and pests. For instance, molds and fungi can grow on overwatered sections of your lawn.
Excess water can also form pools, especially on ground that isn’t level. When that happens, mosquitoes can start breeding out in your garden. You don’t want that, as they bring malaria, which kills over a million people yearly.
To avoid those problems, your weekly garden watering routine should only use 1 to 1.5 inches of water. It’s also wise to spread that across two days, just in case it rains. Use the weather forecast in your area to adjust your watering schedules.
In the U.S., household leaks waste almost 900 billion gallons of water yearly. Ill-maintained and misused landscape irrigation systems contribute to that waste. A defective or incorrectly used irrigation system can waste up to 25,000 gallons of water a year.
Aside from wasting precious water, faulty landscape sprinklers also jack up water bills. They can also drown your garden plants and attract more pests like mosquitoes.
Prevent those problems by hiring a professional to inspect your landscape irrigation system.
When hiring an inspector, choose one certified by a local WaterSense-labelled irrigation program. It’s a partnership program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Underwatering can occur due to a faulty irrigation system. For instance, its sprinklers may have developed clogs, preventing them from releasing water. The problem may also be due to a busted rain sensor, a cut wire, or a broken timer.
Like overwatering, underwatering can also cause plants to wilt. It may also lead to stunted plant growth. The longer the problem goes on, the higher the risk of plant death.
That’s another reason to ensure your gardening maintenance checklist includes annual sprinkler servicing.
Not introducing various types of gardens into your yard can cause pest infestations. That’s because pests, including insects and pathogens, tend to have food favorites.
For example, a disease called Verticillium wilt favors the Rosacea (rose) family. Soil-borne fungi known as Verticillium dahliae and Verticillium albo-atrum are behind this disease.
If you only maintain a rose garden, your plants will become more susceptible to that illness.
Unfortunately, Verticillium wilt-causing fungi also infect members of the Solanaceae family. These include bell and chili peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, million bells, and petunia.
Thus, you’d want to grow various types of gardens with plants prone to different pests.
For example, let’s say you want your yard to feature a rose garden. Then, you should also grow herbs and vegetables resistant to Verticillium wilt. These include celery, carrots, asparagus, sweet potatoes, beans, and peas, to name a few.
In-ground gardens provide benefits such as ease of maintenance and lower water requirements. However, they also have several drawbacks, such as soil compaction and poor draining.
Compacted soil has particles with little to no pore space between them. That inhibits plant growth because their roots can’t spread.
As for soil with poor drainage, it promotes waterlogging, which, in turn, can drown plants. It also induces root rot, ultimately leading to plant death.
Many plants are also more susceptible to waterlogging and root rot. These include rosemary, tomatoes, and peppers, to name a few.
Fortunately, you can prevent those problems with a raised garden bed.
A raised garden bed allows the soil to drain better than an in-ground garden. It also helps prevent soil compaction and plant damage due to foot and machine traffic. Plus, its elevated feature makes it ideal for people with mobility issues.
As you can see, most common gardening errors can result in plant disease and death. Others, like failure to maintain an irrigation system, can also waste resources.
Therefore, to keep your precious plants healthy, do your best to avoid such mistakes.
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Khalil ur Rehman is a proud born and raised in Abbottabad. Khalil has worked as a journalist for nearly a decade having contributed to several large publications including the Yahoo News and The Verge. As a journalist for The Hear Up, Khalil covers climate and science news. [email protected]
Am I Polish? How can I check this?
Would you like to know whether you have Polish roots? There are a few simple ways to check your origin and what’s important, you do not have to do it on your behalf. If you are interested in getting to know more about your family history, and based on the outcome, get Polish citizenship, you should stay with us for a moment. Today, you will find out how to prove Polish ancestry!
How to trace Polish roots?
We have encountered several situations in which an individual was not really sure about his origin. It often results from the fact of his relatives’ specific immigration history or any other reason that could contribute to the loss of citizenship. We are here to help you though!
As you are here, you probably wonder if your ancestors were Polish, don’t you? At this point, we need to say that it is crucial to confirm your roots before you decide to take any step, such as the confirmation of Polish citizenship by descent.
How can you check if you are Polish? Firstly, you should visit your family house. That’s a great starting point! Do you know why? There is a huge possibility you will find any evidence of your eligibility for citizenship in Poland (e.g. old vital records or family tree). In addition to that, it is also crucial to talk to your relatives. We are pretty sure your grandparents will let you know more about some suspicious facts and, as a result, bring you closer to becoming a part of the Polish nation.
What to do if you could not find any evidence of your origin? Do not be stressed about it! We can distinguish one more way of checking Polish roots.
Eligibility for Polish citizenship by descent
Any individual who has at least one Polish ancestor can become a citizen of Poland but, as we mentioned above, it needs to be checked first. At this point, we also need to say that the 20th of January 1920 is a crucial date when it comes to research on Polish roots. So, if you know that any of your relatives was born in Poland or its former territories and resided there after the indicated date, you probably are Polish. What’s important, you need to prove that the Polish citizenship your ancestors held was not lost on the way. If it was not, there is a big chance they passed citizenship to you by the right of blood.
Where to look for help? Here you can find more about Polish citizenship by descent. The Experts will assess your case individually and based on the information you share, take more steps to finally let you know whether you have eligibility for citizenship. They will not only ask you questions about your family history or the documentation (e.g. old vital records) you might have but also conduct research across the archives in Poland and not only.
We completely understand the process we mentioned may seem complicated but that is also a great way to get to know your origin and obtain citizenship through ancestry.
How to get citizenship by descent?
Once you prove you are Polish, there is nothing more to do but lodge a motion at the Voioveship Office. The application must contain documentation confirming your ancestry. Based on that, the Voivode gives a positive decision. The Polish Citizenship Confirmation and Polish vital records will also be issued soon.
If you are still looking for a sign to finally learn more about your origin, here it is. Believe us, many more foreigners are not sure whether their ancestors were Polish and decide to give up on the research. That’s not good! You should take the Polish Citizenship Test and do what you can to become a fully-fledged citizen of Poland.
Umar Nisar was born and raised in the busy city of Abbottabad. As a journalist, Umar Nisar has contributed to many online publications including PAK Today and the Huffing Post. In regards to academics, Umar Nisar earned a degree in business from the Abbottabad UST, Havelian. Umar Nisar follows the money and covers all aspects of emerging tech here at The Hear Up.