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It is officially summer! And with this season the garden matures. Plants are growing and blooming. Herbs become fragrant and vegetables bear fruit. This is the time of year for maintenance and weed and pest control!
These seven summer garden tasks ensure that your garden remains beautiful until late fall.
Summer Garden Tasks
These tasks can be accomplished in a few minutes a day. Walking through the garden area once a day, perhaps while watering, creates an awareness of what’s happening there. If something is amiss or needs attention, you can spot it and act quickly.
This is the biggie among summer garden tasks! Warming temperatures and all those spring showers help the flowers and plants grow…and the weeds too! In fact, a great time to weed is right after a shower, when the ground is damp. Weeds pull up with little effort.
And the easiest weeds to pull are young ones. I’ve learned this from experience. As I walk through the garden daily, I pull any weeds that I see and drop them into a five gallon bucket. When the bucket fills up, I dump the contents into the large trash bin outside the fence, for trash pickup.
If weeds are overrunning the garden, pick an area and work through it diligently. Take a break and then move on to the next area. As the garden grows over the summer, weeds generally become less of a problem. The thriving plants create shade and fill in the area, deterring weed growth.
Use a mix of white vinegar with a squirt of dish soap in a spray bottle to kill weeds in areas away from flowers and herb. Drench the weeds with the mixture, on a hot sunny day, and they will be dead within 48 hours.
Classify this task under maintenance. As temperatures continue to rise and the rains come less frequently, watering becomes vital.
Containers tend to dry out more quickly than the rest of the garden. During hot, dry weather daily watering is essential. For containers a good indicator is to stick your finger into the dirt, up to the first knuckle. If the soil feels dry, water.
The rest of the garden needs approximately an inch of water a week. Note how often it rains and how much you get. During dry spells, sprinklers are a great way to water large areas. Soak the garden for half an hour and then move the sprinkler to another area. A well established garden can tolerate a bit of dryness. I very rarely have to water my in-ground garden, however I water containers daily during the summer.
Once a month use a water soluble plant food to give the garden a boost of nutrition as it grows.
As you water containers, pinch off faded blooms. Called deadheading, this practice keeps plants flowering longer. Many flowering plants don’t need to be deadheaded. The blooms naturally fall off. However, if you see dried flowers on the plant, it’s beneficial to remove them.
Some perennials and herbs benefit from cutting the plants back, after they bloom, shearing away the dried flowers. Often the plants will bloom a second time. They include:
- coral bells
- garden phlox
- lemon balm
- bee balm
Fill In Bare Spots
As the garden matures, look for empty spots. Sprinkle the bare patch with seeds or add blooming annuals for an instant pop of color.
Or be creative and add rocks, driftwood, garden statues or a fairy garden. If you don’t have cats, a birdbath makes a wonderful addition to the garden. I place upside down clay flowerpots throughout my garden, to encourage spiders to make themselves at home. And I created a couple of toad houses from bricks and small slabs of concrete. These critters are garden allies that feed on unwanted pests.
If your garden is home to spiders, toads, praying mantis and lady bugs, pests are kept to a minimum. I use natural approaches to pest control, as much as possible. See Ecological Garden Hacks.
As you water, weed and deadhead, watch for Japanese beetles. Pluck them off the plants…they don’t bite…and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. I do the same with cabbage worms in the vegetable garden.
Support Climbing Vines and Tall Plants
As plants mature, watch for those that need a little extra support. Use simple wooden stakes or bamboo canes for medium height plants needing support. For vines or taller plants, get creative. Make your own trellises from long sticks, fence sections, metal rods or extra garden rakes. Or purchase trellises and obelisks.
Tomato cages are available to support plants as they grow. Just add the cages while the tomato plants are still small and can easily fit inside them.
Mulch as Needed
Finally, check the layer of mulch in the garden and add to it as needed.
Mulch is a great way to keep weeds down, hold moisture in during the hot summer months and enrich the soil as it breaks down. It also keeps a garden looking neat and tidy. And if you use cedar mulch, it smells wonderful.
I typically add a four inch layer of fresh mulch every other year. Garden Centers often sell mulch by the truckload, which is more economical than purchasing individual bags of it.
Summer Garden Tasks Create a Happy Garden
Performing these simple summer garden tasks will keep your backyard paradise healthy and thriving, providing months of beauty. Getting out into the garden is also good for the body and soul. I make weeding and watering meditative experiences or times of expressing gratitude.
I benefit so much from my backyard garden. It brings me much joy and provides herbs for teas and veggies to eat. Tending my garden moves and stretches my body, contributing to my health. And sitting in my garden on summer evenings, with candlelight and a fire in the fire pit is pure bliss.
The very least I can do is take care of this magical place.
Check out these posts in the Backyard Garden Series
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