Summer presents it’s own set of garden maintenance challenges. To make matters interesting, it may be hot, dry, wet, cool, cloudy or sunny. There may be insect or disease infestations, or not. Regardless of what this summer may throw your direction, keeping up with these summer garden maintenance tasks will help you get the most out of your garden.
Removing spent flowers helps plants put more energy into flowering again. Annuals, and repeat flowering shrubs and perennials will offer more color, more often during the season if you deadhead.
Be vigilant! As you deadhead, weed and water, watch for signs of insect and disease pests. The solution may be simple or complex, but the key to garden success lies in early detection and prompt, decisive treatment. Know, invite and protect the good bugs in your garden. Follow the manufacturers instructions on any treatments that may be necessary.
Pick Veggies Clean
In the vegetable garden, keep repeat fruiting plants (like tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, okra and others) picked cleanly as the fruit ripens. Allowing fruit to become over-mature slows production, and may spell the end of the season for these plants.
As plants fill out in early summer, if you’ve kept them weeded up to that point, they should begin to shade out most of their weed competition. It’s okay to slow down, but don’t stop weeding. One weed left to go to seed can cause much more weeding in the future.
Remove Dead Plants
Whether they died of disease, insect damage or natural causes, dead plants shouldn’t remain in the garden. Not only are they unsightly, but they can harbor pests that may spread to other plants. Move dead plants to a compost pile if they are safe for that purpose. If further infestation is a concern, burn or bag and dispose of the plants off site.
If it’s dry, remember to give your garden an inch of irrigation water per week. Containers may need significantly more, especially in hot, arid conditions. If you are having a wet summer, be sure that automated irrigation is adjusted or turned off until needed.
Mid-summer is a good time to address fertilization in the landscape and garden. Yellowish leaves may signify an iron deficiency in an otherwise healthy plant (particularly in lawns and broad-leaf evergreens like gardenias, rhododendrons, azaleas, hollies and others). It is also time to feed hungry garden veggies like greens, tomatoes, peppers and others that may have been planted a month ago or more.
Mulch can make a huge difference in growing conditions: insulating soil from the heat, blocking weeds and helping to conserve moisture. Normally it is a good idea to keep a thick layer of mulch on landscape and garden plantings through summer. In wet years, however some water-sensitive plants may benefit from removal of the mulch to allow some drying to take place.
Keep these 8 summer garden maintenance tasks in mind when going about your chores. By later summer, you can relax and still enjoy the beauty of your garden.