Learn 10 different gardening tips that will make your life easier during the summer and help maintain a beautiful garden without a lot of effort.
I've been gardening in one form or another, all of my life. It always surprises me that things that seem second-hand nature to me, are not as easy for everyone. At least they don't think so, but let me assure you that it is very possible to a have great looking garden, without a ton of work. So, to help those of you who are interested, I'm sharing ten easy summer gardening tips that anyone can accomplish, with little time, and a minor amount of effort.
Here's a pic of our back hillside. It is far from perfect. If you look close you can see a bunch of grass that has made its way into my juniper bush. Still, I love my garden and enjoy looking out at it from our kitchen sink window, and our back porch.
In the summer it can get pretty hot and busy here. Also, I seem to have less time and desire to be in the garden so here are some of the ways I keep up my garden during the summer season.
Gardening Tips for Summer
1. Cut It Out
By summer you can, and should, cut back any leftover leaves from your spring bulbs, like daffodils, and tulips. While you are at it, snoop around and remove any dead branches you see on any shrubs, perennials or annuals. I usually have my pruners in a pocket so that when I'm out watering, weeding, or just looking around, I can cut out anything that is dead, bent, or diseased.
2. Watering Wisdom
Water in the morning when it's cool. It's easier on you, and your plants. If you water during the heat of the day some of it will simply burn off with the sun. If you water at night you may promote mildew and fungus. More importantly, water deeply and well. This is probably the most important lesson I've learned while gardening. You are better off watering for a long time twice a week than giving the plants a little sprinkle every day. Here's a trick I learned from the plethora of gardening tips given by Felder Rushing of the Gestalt Gardener Radio Show. If you like to use a watering can like I do, instead of a hose, go around and water your plants. Then make a second or third trip, allowing for deeper watering. This also helps with impatient people like me to keep moving but still get the job done. By the way, podcasts are a great way to help the time pass when you are doing your gardening chores. Here are my 5 favorite gardening podcasts.
3. Off with Their Heads
If you've been reading about gardening, you've been told about dead-heading. I'll admit that I'm pretty lazy with this one, though I do agree that it's a good thing to do. The easiest way to accomplish this is to snip off flowers on their last leg with the pruners, or in some cases simply pinch them off with your fingers. If you have any flowers that produce nice seed heads like coneflowers or sunflowers allow them to remain and go to seed. They will be great for birds and winter interest.
4. Dividing Iris
If you grow bearded iris summer is the time to divide them. Especially if you didn't have many blooms this year, because they do need to be divided every 4-5 years, and are best divided in the mid-late summer when they go dormant. This also gives them more time to establish a good root system before winter. For more information about divisions see: Dividing Perennials
5. Make a Note of It
Busy impatient people like me find it hard to take the time to make a journal but, when I have recorded information and referred to it later it has really helped me in the garden. The easiest thing to do is keep a small notebook nearby and when you are in the mood on a nice evening, do a little garden audit. Write down where you have an empty space. Keep track of plants that have overgrown their space or seem like they are not thriving. Write down anything that you would like to change for next year's garden. This only needs to be done once a month, and will be a big help in the fall, and more importantly next spring, when you're planning for next year.
6. Weeding Woes
Everyone hates weeding. Okay, I hate it. I mentioned the wayward grass in my picture above. It's really hard to get rid of, so I work on pulling it out now and then and pretty much live with some of it. Not all weeds are hard to pull out, and the best time to get them is after the rain. If it rains at night and the morning is cool, I'm definitely weeding. It really makes this chore so much easier, and like exercise, I'm so glad I did it afterward.
7. Healthy Herbs
If you like to cook with your herbs, you need to remove the flowers. Once the plant flowers it slows down the growth and prepares to end it's lifecycle. The pic above is oregano, however, basil is the one that loves to shoot up flowers in the summer. I just pinch them off when I see them, and this allows for a bushier, fuller plant to harvest, for tons of pesto and other yummy basil recipes.
8. Pesky Critter Control
It's so disheartening when you see holes in your plants from nasty slugs and other pests. If you notice Japanese beetles, grab a bucket of soapy water and pick them off the plant and drop them to their death. For slugs try a plate of cornmeal or a cup of beer that you sink into the ground near the affected area. They'll be attracted to the cornmeal which will kill them, and they will drown in the beer.
9. Invite Heros In
Birds eat many insects, and there are many insects that eat other insects known as beneficial insects. You can invite these heroes into the garden by growing bright, nectar-rich plants they love, providing watering spots and houses for the birds. These plants also attract bees and other pollinators whose numbers are dwindling, so we need to support them in our local gardens. Read more about the missing bee mystery.
10. Go Shopping
Too hot outside? Start planning for next year by ordering spring-blooming bulbs, to plant in the fall. Sometimes the fall is busier than the summer, so it's best to plan ahead. After a long winter, you will be so glad that you took the time to plant new bulbs in the fall because there is nothing sweeter than the first sign of flowers in the spring.
Of all the gardening tips I can give you, the absolute best one is to enjoy your garden.
Literally, "Stop and Smell the Roses." Be at peace with imperfection.
Pick your flowers. Bring them inside to enjoy, and share a bouquet with someone you love.