Gardeners Make Mistakes, Too (Gasp!)

I don’t care what level of gardening expertise you have, gardeners make mistakes, too. Wha? Yes, I will gladly swallow my pride and admit it…gardeners make MISTAKES.

Case in point?

I planted some Quaking Aspens in my yard along with a beautiful oriental Japanese Maple tree and look at what is happening? Yes, they are dieing. DIEING! Do they look under watered? I thought so, too. So I began giving these babies all the drink they could muster and they still continued to shrivel. Why? Why you ask? I wondered, too. I had an inkling, but I wanted to hear it straight from the gardening expert at the local nursery. And I was right…these suckers are getting OVER watered.

Right after I planted these trees a couple of months ago, we got a heavy rainfall for about three weeks. The trees seemed like they were thriving. Then a couple of weeks after the heavy rain, they all started to wilt and shrivel and turn brown. That’s when I started watering them heavily again only to see them shrivel continually. So, take note! Just because a tree LOOKS like it is dieing from thirst, doesn’t mean it IS.

Here’s another sign of over watering…my lovely rose bushes are yellowing; the leaves are dropping off. The over watering created a fungi. Ouch! So now I’m treating it with a fungicide and giving them a good watering every 4-5 days. With the heavy mulching, they don’t need as much water.

I’m really hoping that with less watering, the trees will pull out of it and the roots won’t turn to rot.

But alas, what is this? I think I see some GREEN on these Quakies! Yay! I’m keeping my fingers crossed…

Gardening is a work in progress and many failures bring about much success.

Signs of overwatering? The most common symptoms include:

  • Rapid and gradual defoliation (where the lower leaves on the plant yellow and fall)
  • Wilting or drooping
  • Stunted plants
  • Spotted foliage
  • Gray, fuzzy mold/mildew around the stem, leaves and flower

Keep in mind that these symptoms can also be indicative of other problems, so it is better to observe your garden to judge how much water it needs. The “one inch per week” rule is a good one to follow, but it may have to be adjusted according to the season, the plant types, and your climate.

Ways to make sure you properly water your garden:

  • Examine the soil to see if it is too dry and crumbly or where it’s too wet and muddy. Checking the soil often will you help you avoid over/under watering
  • Water slowly. Watering too quickly causes runoff.
  • Water deeply so that more than just the top layer of soil receives the water.
  • Water in the morning when it’s cool. Watering in the heat of the day may cause quick evaporation; and watering at night can bring about disease and fungi.

Image credit: eillen1981 / 123RF Stock Photo

About Jen

Jen is owner, author, and creative mind behind Bakerette. Jen eats a vegan diet and recently converted Bakerette to a plant-based website that offers a smattering of healthful recipes! Jen is author of the cookbook Festive Feasts: Meals and Memories from Halloween to Christmas, which can be purchased online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.


  1. Well it looks like you have a beautiful garden despite the over watering and I think no matter what you do in life, there are bound to be mistakes made!

  2. I SOOOOOOOO needed this post today. I planted flowers for the first time—-ever on Saturday and one of my Snap Dragons was looking like it was falling over. I am off to check the soil/dirt now!! Thanks for the AWESOME info!!

  3. gardenerprogress/Catherine says:

    Over and under watering are very easy mistakes to make. Right now it's so dry and has been so I know that my shriveling leaves are from underwatering. Glad to see your trees are showing signs of recovery!

  4. Miss Daisy says:

    Great suggestion Cynthia! I always appreciate your wisdom and advice!

  5. Cynthia says:

    A trick for helping you figure out if you are over or underwatering a new tree is to dig a hole NEXT to the planting hole. Sometimes the amount of moisture in the TOP layer of soil fools you about what's going on below grade.

    I have a tree that's been struggling because the bottom part of the root ball wasn't getting wet enough and the top was soggy. We were watering frequently but not long enough. I put the hose on low pressure and stuck it down the hole to deep water my new plant. I'll do this every few days for as long as needed to ensure the tree gets enough water to all parts of the root ball to get established.

  6. That was exciting to see green! Keep me posted on how they are coming along please :)

  7. Heather says:

    Good luck with the come-back! I have done this exact thing with box elders. Who knew a tree liked skimpy water?

  8. Diane MacNaughtan says:

    Hey, I live in Brigham city,UT. Had that same Heavy rain, wilt, then the dieing of the leaves. However it was a globe willow in our case. I would have kept on watering but my mom told me it was overwatered. Luckily, I listened and it snapped out of it!
    We have planted 26 trees in our yard in the past 3 years and i'm telling ya, you get very attatched to these trees as if they were one of your offspring. :) lol…

    I love reading your blog, because I am no green thumb and you are very informative. Thanks for sharing :)


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