Oh it’s that time of year, time to plant and sow, to weed and cultivate. The sun is getting closer and brighter, the soil is warming up—it’s time to make the most of your landscape. There are a lot of ways it can go so right, and happy accidents are a great gardening tool, but here are some ways it goes all wrong:

Crowding the plants:

Remember that plants grow and spread, and tucking them in too tightly can keep them from thriving. Leave the recommended space between them and keep watering—they take up their space when it’s time.

Ignoring your soil:

Tedious as it may seem, getting your soil tested really is the key to growing things successfully. Yes, you can drop seeds and plants into the dirt and see what happens, but you could be wasting a lot of time and money. Dig five to seven inches down into your soil, fill two bags, and take them to the county extension office in your area. They can help you.


Yes, the summer can be hot and dry here, but follow your nursery’s recommendations for watering and don’t overdo it. Plants like a break from watering every once in a while.

Pretty noxious weeds:

You won’t always know which ones are noxious and which are just pretty. A lot of non-native species take over without being invasive per se, like morning glory and evergreen blackberry. Loosetrife, English Ivy, and English hawthorn are all out. Beautiful oxeye daisy is also, sadly, out, as well as lovely yellow flag iris. The Noxious Weeds Control Board has lots of information here: nwcb.wa.gov.


There’s nothing wrong with mulching, in fact, it can help plants retain moisture and protect root systems. But it can also be toxic. Mulch is typically made from churned up wood products, some of which are treated with arsenic. Mulch can also sour. So if you’re concerned, be sure to consult with your nursery. They’ll know how to help.

Wrong plant, wrong place:

Ignoring planting zone maps just so you can grow a watermelon on the shady side of Lake Whatcom? Yes, we’ve been there. But no, it won’t work. Sun, rain, and wind are natural limitations to certain times of plants, as is the undeniable fact of climate. Pay attention to what times of day the sun is brightest in your garden, what days of the year the garden is coldest. Know yourspace—this will save you time and money

"Oh it's that time of year, time to plant and sow, to weed and cultivate."