Summer is here, and that means plenty of time to spend enjoying your outdoor space. But if your summer is looking more blah than beautiful, or if you’re not enjoying the chores that come with maintaining a lovely landscape, this is for you.
There are some things you can do – and some you shouldn’t – if you want a great looking landscape. See if any of these resonate, and lean how to make your summer a more enjoyable, less stressful and absolutely more gorgeous one.
DO Update Your Vegetable Garden
Strawberries are out, blueberries are in. Leafy greens are out, rosy red tomatoes are in!
If you love to keep a few edibles around for a good summer salad (or if you’ve just got a nice herb garden on the patio) then make sure you adjust your menu for the summer months.
All those delicate springtime vegetables bolt in the heat, which means they’ll be busily producing seeds for next year. Don’t waste your energy trying to keep them producing – leave the peas, lettuces and radishes for next spring and cultivate heat-loving veggies, instead.
Tomatoes, zucchini, sweet potato and eggplant are just a few of the sun-lovers. Hardy greens like chard, or cruciferous ones like broccoli do well in heat, too. There are plenty of summer treats to enjoy, so align your gardening with the season and your job will be much easier and more enjoyable.
DON’T Prune Your Spring-Flowering Shrubs
Spring blooming plants will be setting their seeds for next year right about now, so don’t thwart next year’s bloom by trimming them now. You can shape hedges if you must (better yet, enjoy the naturalistic look), but avoid any that bloom in spring.
You can deadhead spent annuals and perennials to encourage secondary blooms, and while you’re at it, save seeds for next year’s garden.
Think ahead to fall by cutting back any fall perennials you may have. This will encourage abundant blooms later.
DO Use Native, Drought-Tolerant Plants
Who wants to spend half a day watering flowers and shrubs? If it’s a particularly hot, dry summer, you could be facing water restrictions, and that could seriously thwart your gardening efforts even if you have the best of intentions. And oh, those water bills!
Avoid the hassle entirely – and conserve precious resources – by using native plants in your gardens. They are much better suited to the fickle temperatures of the season and were quite literally born to thrive right here in New Jersey.
Don’t confuse drought-tolerant with dull! There’s a wide variety of low-maintenance plants that tolerate the heat and sun quite well, including some gorgeous wildflowers like the Black Eyed Susan, Baptista, Geraniums and many Daisies.
Enjoy Lavender, Trumpet Vine, Fountaingrass, and Bougainvillea. Herbs that thrive in dry conditions include the delightfully savory rosemary and its friend thyme. And if you love succulents, now is the time to let them unfold.
With so many options for color, texture, scent and taste, there’s no reason to struggle with the summer weather to grow and maintain a gorgeous landscape.
DON’T Kill Those Bugs
Some may be pests, and by all means extinguish those that are gnawing at your tomatoes. But there are many insects that are so beneficial – and crucial – to the health of your landscape that you want to be extra-careful not to eliminate them in the process.
Ladybugs, bees, butterflies, and even some ground beetles are vital to the health and success of your landscape.
You may not knowingly squash a butterfly, but lots of pesticides take a scorched-earth approach, which means that your pollinators and beneficial bugs could take a hit along with the less-desirable bugs.
Head off many of your pest problems by going native. Plants that evolved to grow in this region are far more pest resistant than exotics. And do be careful of how aggressively you target the creepy crawly population of your yard.
DO Add A Layer Of Protective Mulch
You probably associate mulch with springtime more than summer. After all, that’s when rich layers of the brownish-reddish stuff crop up in garden beds everywhere, from front yards to grocery store parking lots.
But summer is also a great time to add a fresh layer of mulch. For starters, your springtime mulch may be looking a bit bedraggled right about now, so a clean dusting will give your gardens a visual pick-me-up.
Mulch is also good for keeping weeds at bay, which makes maintenance much easier.
Most of all, mulch helps to keep plant roots cool and retain moisture in the soil during the hot and dry summer months. And when the rains finally do come gushing down, mulch will help prevent soil erosion, trapping more of the precious water to soothe thirsty plants.
DON’T Waste Water
If you’re going to be watering plants (and let’s face it, even the most drought-tolerant among them still need some TLC during particularly brutal days) then you want to do it wisely, without wasting a moment or a drop.
That means avoiding watering during the hottest part of the day. Contrary to popular myth, watering under the sun will not burn your plants, but it will render your efforts less effective. Water will evaporate far quicker during the height of a sunny afternoon, and plants will not reap the benefits you intend.
In fact, plants that only receive a small amount of water may actually go dormant in an effort to conserve what little moisture they get.
Your best bet is to water in the early morning, so roots have enough time to absorb the water they need. As an aded benefit, be sure to water deeply. Giving the soil a thorough soaking will encourage roots to grow deeper, ultimately making plants even more drought tolerant. And that’s a win all around!
Finally, don’t waste what water Mother Nature does offer. You can easily – and beautifully – conserve water through rainwater harvesting. Through a combination of plants, natural stone, and containers all designed naturally and gorgeously into your landscape, you can capture rain and use it later when you need it most.
DO Think About The Other Three Seasons
Who wants to think about dark, cold winter days while enjoying a lounge in the pool? You may be thoroughly enjoying the season you’re in, but it, too, shall pass, and the cycle of the seasons will continue.
If you spend a little bit of time considering how your landscape will fare through autumn, winter and into next spring, you’re bound to enjoy all of them much more.
Consider plantings that have four seasons of interest, whether in changing colors, or in the sights, scents, and sounds they bring.
Tall grasses, for example, are excellent summer companions, adding texture and height as a backdrop for your flowerbeds. But they’re also perfect winter plants, bringing much-needed depth and movement to an otherwise still winter landscape.
Plenty of plants have something unique to offer each season, from flowers in spring, to greenery through summer, bold autumn colors, and winter shape and texture. With the right combination of plants, trees and shrubs, you’ll have color, sound, motion, texture, visual interest and even scent all year long.
Summer is a time for sun, heat, and all of the wonderful sights, sounds, scents and tastes it brings. Don’t fight the weather – there are too many ways to make it work to your advantage!
If you’d like to know more about how your yard can be beautiful, low-maintenance, and enjoyable throughout the summer – and all year – contact us for a consultation. Isn’t it time you loved your landscape?