Sometimes, it seems that our plants are smarter than we are. They take it easy on these hot, summer days while some people spend their summers making landscape work. If there’s nothing to do in the yard, these people pace around, mow the parched, straw-like grass twice a week and still aren’t satisfied.
They are lost because there isn’t anything to do for the beloved plants in their landscape. Many plants, like turfgrass, go dormant. Others just slow down their life processes. Your plants would prefer that you do the same, rather than forcing care on them that they don’t need or want. Instead, why not make a nice, cool drink and go sit on your porch, deck or patio and just enjoy your beautiful landscape? This is better for your health and the health of your plants.
If you must do something, keep a diary of weekly rainfall. If it doesn’t total an inch or more, a week, give your plants the supplemental water they need. Today, watering doesn’t have to lead to heat stroke. You can weave a network of soaker hoses through your planting beds to water annuals, perennials, shrubs and even small trees. These porous rubber hoses are made from recycled automobile tires. The water is turned on only a quarter turn, otherwise the pressure can blow the hose apart. Consequently, it takes a considerable amount of time to provide an inch of water. All you need to do, though, is sit in the shade and watch the water ooze out of the hoses.
Mature trees seldom need supplemental water. Their extensive root systems find water on their own, even in a drought. Turfgrass watering is your call. Grass has the ability to go dormant when thirsty and then bound back when the rains return. Lawn watering is tiring work and will raise your water bill as high as the temperature.
If you must keep busy during the dog days of summer, you can deadhead flowers so the plants will redirect their energy away from making seeds to either making new flowers or energy to store in the roots for winter survival.
Mulch may also need your attention. If it looks matted down or depleted, pick a “cool” day and fluff it up using an iron rake. If that doesn’t do it, add some more mulch to bring it up to two or three inches.
There’s a good reason why the slow gardening movement had its start in the south. Summers are too hot to be going a mile a minute. Summers are too hot for that here, too. That’s why the best landscaping task you can do in July and early August is nothing.
Enjoying it is part of gardening. Even we professionals get to enjoy it once in a while.