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Smart Garden

7 Tasks to Make Your Summer Garden Singing

Your Summer Garden  Singing

Summer is the time to enjoy the fruits of your spring labor and have fun in the garden. While you're at it, follow these ten basic tasks and your plants will reward you with strong growth and blooms throughout the fall.

1. Give me water, please!

As the summer heat settles in, the soil in your containers and garden beds will begin to dry out more quickly than it did in the spring. Keep a close eye on your plants to make sure they don't wilt between waterings. Plants growing in full sun need to be watered more often than those in shade.

To determine if your container plants need water, press your finger deep into the soil. If it's dry on your fingertips, it's time to water. Be sure to direct the stream of water into the soil, not over the plants, so the roots can soak it up properly. While you're at it, clean and fill the bird bath. Birds need consistent clean water too!

2. Don't let the weeds win.

There is no mistake that weeds grow faster than beautiful plants. Staying on top of them and pulling them off before they spread is a seasonal task, and summer is no exception. Catch them before they go to seed, and you'll have less weeding later. Look down for low-growing weeds lurking beneath the leaves of your flowers.

3. I am hungry, feed me!

Annual flowers need to be fed regularly throughout the entire growing season so they have enough energy to continue growing and producing flowers. We recommend giving them our water-soluble plant foods every third watering. If you live in an area that experiences heavy summer rains, remember that prolonged waterlogging can leach nutrients from containers. Feed them again after it rains.

4. Watch for insects in the garden.

Insects and four-legged insects are active throughout the summer, so keep your eyes peeled. Some gardeners live and let garden pests such as snails, grasshoppers and Japanese beetles arrive, while others choose to fight them. How you want to manage your garden is up to you. Some draw the line at the petunia budworm, which can devour an entire plant's flowers in a very short time. Here is an article and video on how to combat that particular pest.

5. Remove spent perennial flowers.

Most of the annual varieties of proven winners are self-cleaning, so you don't have to spend your time picking faded flowers. But many types of perennials are usually deadheaded, meaning their spent flower stalks are cut back to encourage reblooming and tidy up the plant's appearance.

For example, dianthus (such as Fruit Bunch® 'Sweetie Pie' shown here) benefit from cutting off its spent flowers after early summer. It looks elegant, displays beautiful foliage, and encourages the plant to bloom again in early fall. Using scissors, cut the flower stems back above the upper leaves. 'Cat's Meow' catmint can be cut in the same way and will bloom again in summer.

6. Support leaning plants and vines.

Now, your plants have grown too tall and are starting to lean over their neighbors. That's okay, we all need a little support from our friends. But if they lean to the point where their stems break, or crush nearby plants, it's time to get them. Various types of support cages, poles, rings, and more are available at local garden centers. You may need to add additional support for climbing vines that already reach the top of the trellis. Garden rope comes in handy for this purpose. (Shown here: 'Sweet Summer Love' Clematis)

7. Is the mulch getting a little thin?

Sometimes fine mulch breaks down before the end of the season and needs to be reapplied in the summer. Mulch keeps plant roots cool and retains soil moisture, which is important to keep your plants from stressing in the summer heat. It also covers bare ground where weeds would otherwise try to sprout. You may need to pick up a few more bags of mulch to fill in the empty spaces.

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