Summer time is a good excuse to slow down the gardening for a month or two, and enjoy your garden at your next pool party or barbeque bash. Your flowers should be blooming idiots by now, while your vegetables and fruit are producing regularly. If you live in the Southwest or a warmer climate, you should have already planted everything last month, while those that have cooler weather can buy some extra time. However, the summer should be a time for maintenance, and we’d like to share some tips on what you should (and shouldn’t!) be doing this season.
Gardens may require more supplemental watering during the summer months. Therefore, it’s a good time to install the drip irrigation system you’ve been thinking about, especially if you wish not to be hunched over your garden under the beating sun. Drip irrigation is also effective for decreasing the risk of evaporation, erosion and run-off, which happens more frequently in the hot summer months. If you prefer to water manually, water your plants deeply and more frequently (especially your trees and shrubs) if the weekly rainfall hits below 1” a week.
Get to know your soil and how it retains water. Soil tends to crack and dry up quickly in the hot sun, especially if it’s clay soil lacking organic matter. Sandy soil with organic matter retains the most water, and decreases the chance of pesky evaporation. While watering is important, be careful to not overwater your plants, as this could lead to fungus and disease.
Hold off on planting anything new this time of year. Any new plants should have been planted a few weeks after the last frost, and now is the time to maintain and harvest. However, if you live in a moderate summer climate, there are some warm-loving plants that could grow nicely in warm soil, and if given plenty of attention and water. In moderate summer climates, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, eggplants, peppers, brussel sprouts and corn all can grow quite well during this time. Thegardenhelper.com can further provide more information on boldly planting this time of year!
Weeding will most likely be the brunt of the maintenance required in the summer time, as weeds thrive in the dry heat and can inhibit a vibrant garden. Aim to weed about 2-3 times a week. Removing weeds quickly and when they are small will make weeding a snap, as large root systems won’t have the opportunity to form. If you receive a good monsoon storm, or some summer rain, you’ll find the task of weeding even easier as the soil softens. Natural weed killers are always recommended, as they will have little to no impact on the environment. Vinegar works well against weeds, but may require a few applications to really do the trick. Boiling water is also effective, just be sure to use caution around surrounding plants, as well as yourself!
Some other general rules for summer gardening include applying mulch and knowing when to prune. Mulch can do wonders for your garden, as it protects the soil from high temperatures, retains moisture, and prevents water evaporation and runoff. It can also reduce the rate of weeds, which is even more appreciated when temperatures hit 100+ degrees! Stop by our blog post on mulching here for more helpful tips.
Generally, excessive pruning should be avoided during the summer months. However, removing fading blossoms to promote further growth, or pruning late flowering shrubs and hedges in the early summer months should be fine. When the weather gets even warmer, it’s best to avoid pruning whenever possible, as it can really damage a plant fast (about as fast as those weeds grew).
Bonus! We found a terrific guide for month-by-month tips on maintaining lawns, ornamentals and citrus trees from June – August.
What summer maintenance do you practice in your own garden?