Kind people tell you it’s only a mistake if you make it twice. Others say we learn from our mistakes. But even with these words of comfort, it’s better to avoid making mistakes in the first place.

1. Hold the secateurs

Pruning at the wrong time of the year, or at the wrong point in a plant’s growth cycle, may remove flowering wood. The pruned plant may look good and even have strong growth but fails to flower. The frustrated gardener may prune again, compounding the problem. Lack of flowers after pruning can happen as while some plants flower on new growth, others flower on older wood. Don’t panic – there’s a simple solution that means you’ll never make a mistake. If you are unsure about when to prune, prune after a plant has flowered or fruited and you won’t go wrong.

2. More isn’t better

The packet says to use a capful so two caps will be twice as good – right? No, wrong! More is rarely better and is usually dangerous. An application of fertiliser or pesticide that’s too strong can damage a plant. It may cause the leaves to brown as if burnt, roots to die or could even kill the plant. To avoid mistakes, read and follow instructions on how to apply garden products before you use them.

3. I sprayed and the plant died!

It is possible to kill a plant with residual herbicide from a sprayer or watering can. Always use separate containers for herbicides such as glyphosate (sold as Roundup and other brand names). Don’t ever use those containers to apply water, fertiliser or a pesticide such as an insecticide or fungicide. Even the smallest amount of herbicide left in a container can be enough to damage or kill a garden plant. To avoid making such as silly mistake, invest in a waterproof marker and label containers ‘Herbicide Only’.

4. Whoops there go my toes

Lawn mowers can trim more than the grass if you accidently run over your foot or the hose while mowing. Always wear solid footwear when using power equipment in the garden. Before you mow, walk over the lawn picking up any hard objects such as sticks, stones and the kids’ toys and, while you’re at it, roll up the hose. Protective eye-wear is also important as just a small piece of debris or a stone thrown up by a mower can cause lasting eye damage.

5. But I did water!

It is quite possible to spend time watering the garden or pot plants only to discover that the plants are still wilting. Soil can become water repellent. Instead of soaking in, water runs off such soils. The surface looks wet but if you scrape away this top layer, the soil where the plant roots are can be bone dry. Potting mixes can also dry out so much they fail to absorb water. The solution is to apply a soil wetting agent. This product counteracts water repellency and allows water to soak in. Alternatively, if the pot is small enough to lift, dunk the entire pot (plant and all) into a large container of water. Allow it to soak up the water to rehydrate the plant’s root ball.