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Are we a nation of gardening idiots?

Are we really a nation of hopeless, cack-handed gardeners?

Is your plot a disaster area?

As embarrassing as it is, new research has revealed how hopeless the British are when it comes to our gardens, yet we are expected to spend an average of £447 this year on our outdoor space.

Killing grass with paddling pools and trampolines, cutting through cable on lawn mowers and overwatering plants to death are among the common misdemeanors inexperienced gardeners will fall foul of.

The poll, by tool manufacturers Fiskars, found nearly one in 20 (four per cent) people have managed to kill fish in their pond, while nearly one in 10 has blown off flower petals while power washing.

A quarter of the 1,500 homeowners surveyed said their dog had ruined their grass and shrubs by peeing all over them.

Children running riot (11 per cent), a lack of knowledge (18 per cent) and not having the right equipment (17 per cent) were cited as the reasons we don’t have pristine gardens – with 18 per cent saying they wish they had new tools.

Cat troubles in the garden
Cat troubles in the garden

Mistaking flowers for weeds

Other common mishaps include ripping up flowers thinking they are weeds (23 per cent) and planting at the wrong time (22 per cent).

More than one in five (21 per cent) said they don’t know what they’re doing, while nine per cent said they don’t know the difference between flowers and weeds.

The poll found more than one in five of us have dead pot plants around the garden, while 22 per cent said their patio is covered in weeds.

However, 57 per cent of Brits rate their gardening skills as good, compared to 23 per cent who say they lack knowledge.

Botanist and broadcaster James Wong said: “Some of the gardening mishaps that Brits have encountered can happen to the most experienced of horticulturists.

fiskars‘Don’t be put off by failures’

“With the weather improving, millions of Brits will be tackling their gardens and it’s important to have the right equipment for the job and to not be put off by a few failures.

“I have gardening disasters all the time and the wonderful thing about gardening is that there are no real ‘mistakes’, only ‘experiments’.”

Just over one in 20 (six per cent) describe their garden as pristine and their pride and joy.

A spokesperson from Fiskars said: “It’s clear from our research that homeowners feel they need assistance in their garden and we’re here to help.”

Ironically, given our lack of gardening know-how, 73 per cent of those polled said their outdoor space was quite or very important to them.

Get rid of perennial weeds like dandelions
Get rid of perennial weeds like dandelions

Top 20 gardening disasters

  1. Overwatering – 32 per cent
    2. Dog or cat pee killing a plant – 25 per cent
    3. Ripping up flowers thinking they were weeds – 22 per cent
    4. Planting out of season – 22 per cent
    5. Killing the grass with a paddling pool – 21 per cent
    6. Forgetting to water hanging baskets – 20 per cent
    7. Killing the grass with a trampoline – 17 per cent
    8. Chopped a tree/hedge too far back – 13 per cent
    9. Cut through a cable on a hedge trimmer or mower – 12 per cent
    10. Watered plastic/fake plants – 10 per cent
    11. Strimming without a line in the strimmer -10 per cent
    12. Power washing petals off flowers – eight per cent
    13. Painted a fence with the wrong type of paint/varnish – eight per cent
    14. Standing on an upturned rake – eight per cent
    15. Putting weed killer on the lawn – eight per cent
    16. Laying an uneven patio – seven per cent
    17. Buying too many gnomes/garden ornaments – six per cent
    18. Planting trees too close to the house – five per cent
    19. Killing fish in the pond – four per cent
    20. Mowing the lawn with no blade – three per cent
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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.


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