Can you believe this is nearly the middle of summer? That means that all the spring landscape work’s done and it’s too early to begin fall work. Does that mean you’re getting bored just sitting on the deck or patio enjoying the results of your labor? Here are some maintenance tasks you can still do now to spruce up your yard before the dog day of summer that roll around in August.
• Change out faded annuals. Annuals are only temporary plants. They grow, they go to seed and then they die. Thus, the name – annuals. If weather conditions in your area have caused your annuals to begin fading already, now would be a good time to replace them. It’s too early for fall plants like mums so more spring/summer flowers would be appropriate.
• Continue to deadhead. Deadheading is the practice of removing spent flowers before they can go to seed. This encourages the plants to direct their energy to another flush of flowers rather than dropping seeds. Hopefully, you have been deadheading since you first planted your annuals. Continue this practice on all that are still flowering, and you may not have to change out the plants until closer to fall. Then you can save at least one changeout this year. Deadheading is also known as pinching. Although some people insist on pinching the stem just below the flower, it’s often easier to use scissors or pruners.
• Fluff mulch and replace if necessary. A good, organic mulch like ground wood chips can moderate the soil temperature when the heat gets oppressive. (It also holds heat in the soil when the air gets cold.) Mulch also holds water, either from rain or irrigation, and releases it into the soil over time, which is better for the plants than to deluge them with water, as in an intense rain shower, only to have a substantial amount run off before the soil can absorb it. Over time, mulch gets matted down, decomposes and sinks into the soil. This is good because it’s returning organic matter to the soil. In summer, two or three inches of mulch is sufficient. If you appear to have that depth of mulch but it’s matted down, fluff it up with an iron rake so there are plenty of air pockets. For beds with less than two inches, add the necessary much. Raking it out should fluff it sufficiently.
• Be ready to water. If meteorologists are calling for a dry August, be sure your irrigation system is ready. Drip irrigation is more effective than sprinkling. Less water evaporates before reaching the soil. Drip irrigation for most consists of soaker hoses, those porous black hoses made from recycled tires. Be sure your soaker hoses are positioned correctly and working properly before they’re needed.
With these tasks finished, you can truly relax, confident that your landscape is ready to take on whatever summer dishes out. As for you, you shouldn’t feel guilty about staying in the air conditioning on really oppressive days.