Keeping your landscape healthy, green and attractive throughout the hottest part of summer is easy, provided you know all the right tricks. Want to know the best ways to keep your gardens growing and flowers blooming despite the summer heat? The following tips will show you how to help your landscape thrive all summer:
1. Know When to Prune
With some trees and shrubs, you can wait until fall or winter to prune. In fact, the University of Minnesota recommends that you prune many trees during the last stages of winter while the trees are still dormant. The exceptions are sap-heavy trees like maples, butternuts and birch trees.
In the summer, however, you’ll need to focus your attention on the ornamentals that bloom early in the spring. Azaleas, lilacs, forsythia and anything else that blooms early needs plenty of time to recuperate before winter so that you have a good flush of blooms during the following spring. For these plants, start pruning after the blooms fade but don’t prune any later than the end of July. As a bonus, because early blooming plants devote more energy to producing new branches once they’ve been pruned, you’ll be rewarded with a flush of fresh greenery to enjoy over the summer.
2. Mow to the Right Height
In the spring, grass can take a little more abuse, simply because the extra moisture in the ground helps it recover after a harsh mowing. As the weather heats and the soil dries, you’ll need to be a little more particular about mowing. Make sure that you never remove more than one-third of your lawn’s height, even if that means you need to raise the mower deck. This will prevent stress to your lawn, which in turn keeps your lawn green and healthy rather than brown and parched.
3. Deadhead Your Flowers
Deadheading seems like a no-brainer — it gets rid of all the ugly, lifeless blooms. However, there’s an even more important reason to keep up with the deadheading. Flowers, whether annual or perennial, put a lot of energy into seed production. Let some flowers go to seed, and you’ll have far fewer blooms for the rest of the summer, whereas if you pluck the spent flowers, the plant will release chemical signals to increase bloom production.
4. Top Your Mulch
If you’re like most people, you do your mulching in the spring. Between rains, wind, transplanting and weeding, however, some of that mulch can disappear in a matter of weeks. Keep in mind that mulch is doubly important in the summer — not only does it give your gardens a neat, weed-free look, but according to Cornell University, mulched soils can retain twice as much water as bare soil. In addition, the soil will stay eight to 13 degrees cooler, which is good for your plants’ root systems. With that thought in mind, buy a few bags of mulch and top your beds wherever necessary.
5. Tend to Your Cool-Season Vegetables
Come July, certain crops in your vegetable garden — cool weather crops like peas, cabbage and broccoli — should be finished for the season. With those plants out of your vegetable garden, you can do three things with the extra space:
- Mulch the empty beds to keep the weeds down and help prepare the soil for the next year.
- Replant cool season vegetables for a fall crop.
- Plant cover crops to help enrich and soften the soil.
If you try cover crops, look for late season crops like radishes, wheat and rye. Plant them thickly, and these crops will choke weeds even as they improve your vegetable beds.
6. Pick the Right Time to Water
Should you water daily, weekly or not at all? The answer to that question depends on the amount of rain your region has received and the water requirements of the plants within your landscape.
However, if you do need to water, then always water as early as you can in the morning. The logic behind this is two-fold: Watering early gives the moisture more time to soak into the soil before the heat of the day evaporates it, but at the same time, leaves will have enough time to dry, which makes it harder for diseases and fungal infections to take hold.
With these tips, you can easily keep your summertime landscape healthy and lush without a lot of fuss. As the weather gets hotter, relax and enjoy all the hard work that led to your gorgeous landscape.
Rick Ryan is the owner and president of All Valley Landscaping. With more than 21 years of experience in landscape renovations Rick is a certified expert in the construction industry, including: landscape renovations, yard renovations and exterior home, tree trimming and removal services and sprinkler repair and installations.