Summer Garden Maintenance Tips
Garden lovers have kept busy this spring with garden design, clean up, soil prep and planting, so with it being summer let us offer some garden maintenance tips to keep your garden under control and looking good through to the fall months.
General garden tips:
- Different types of weeds germinate in the spring, summer, and fall so the battle to banish them from your lawn is an ongoing and frustrating one. Weeds that germinate in the summer are generally summer annual weeds, which grow rapidly, produce a flower, go to seed and then die with the onset of fall. Pulling them out by hand or with the use of the Garden Bandit can easily control many of these annual weeds because they usually cannot re-grow from the remaining roots.
- Pests: One single insect can lay thousands of eggs, ensuring a continual attack on your lawn and landscape. If you know where to look for these pests, their impact can be minimized. For your landscape plants start by looking at the leaves or needles and keep an eye out for chew marks, feeding trails or curled leaves, as all can be indicators of insect activity. Also insects such as aphids or white flies can become rampant as plants grow larger and have less circulation between them.
- Control mosquitoes by eliminating all sources of stagnant water.
- A garden needs one inch of rain or water each week. Early morning is the best time to water. Evening watering is less desirable because plant leaves that remain wet through the night are more susceptible to fungus diseases. Mulch plants to reduce water losses and improve yields.
- If you're a container gardener, think big. The smaller the pot, the more quickly the soil dries out and needs watering. Use large pots and be sure to mix your soil with a helping of polymer crystals. These crystals absorb several hundred times their weight in water and release the moisture as the soil dries out. This can significantly reduce the need for watering, especially in larger pots. Follow the directions carefully as pots with too many crystals will eject their contents during a heavy rainstorm.
- Cutting flowers to bring indoors is best done with sharp shears which will help avoid injury to the growing plant. A slanting cut will expose a larger absorbing surface to water and will prevent the base of the stem from resting on the bottom of the vase.
- Tall flowers should be staked to prevent damage by wind. Use stakes that are large enough to support the plant but are not too conspicuous.
- Vegetable Gardening - Make successive plantings of crops like beans and sweet corn to provide a continuous harvest until fall. A small garden will produce a large quantity of vegetables if replanting is done throughout the summer. For fall harvest of lettuce, radish, carrots, beets, turnips, kale and spinach, sow seeds in late July to early August.
Perennial garden tips:
- Deadheading - trim off faded flowers as many perennials can be coaxed into producing more buds, rather than wasting their energy forming seeds.
- A light shearing after rock garden perennials finish flowering will keep them in top form for many years. This technique helps to maintain a dense and bushy habit, keeps them from dying out in the middle too quickly, and also prevents them from self-seeding.
- Cutting Back Hard - the vast majority of late spring and early summer-blooming perennials die quickly after flowering, and can look poor later in the summer. Hard shearing back will encourage a new round of fresh, healthy and compact foliage to be produced, causing the plants to actually be an attractive addition to the border during the heat of summer.
- Pinching (height control) - Pruning off one half to two thirds of the growth will result in an especially bushy plant, with reduced height and often considerably more flowers, although smaller in size. This technique is especially useful to reduce the need for tedious staking. Pinching too late in the season can cause some of the autumn bloomers to flower so late that the frost gets the blooms before they have a chance to open. In general, pinching fall bloomers no later than the beginning to middle of July is wise across Canada and in the northern United States.
Of course, a gardener's work is never done. However, these summer gardening tips will help develop a maintenance system that once done, will allow for more time to relax and enjoy your garden.