S@H: What are the biggest mistakes beginner gardeners tend to make?
Mark: That's easy. They don't prepare soil properly or thoroughly enough. First determine what kind of soil you have. It's going to be between two extremes: solid clay and pure sand. In Ontario, the majority of people have clay-based soil. You don't want to plant your whole garden in that. Before planting a whole bed, dig out 16 inches (40 cm) deep and fill it in with “triple mix.”
Triple mix is a combination of top soil, compost and peet moss and it's the universally accepted soil mixture. Use it for ornamental gardens, fruit trees, roses, evergreens - anything. You can buy it at any garden centre. If you're just putting in one plant, remove the clay-based soil from the hole and fill that in with triple mix.
Once you have a good quality soil, 90 percent of your gardening success in ensured right there.
Now put the plant in the hole. The crown of plant (where stems meet the top of the pot) should stand 5 to 8 cm above the grade of the soil. Then mound soil up to the crown. You don't want water flowing down into the crown because then the water doesn't drain away and the plant will rot.