Summer is the time your garden shines brightest, full of vibrant flowers, containers spilling over with blossoms, and vegetables feeding your family and the neighborhood. With the digging and planting of spring behind you, it’s tempting to sit back and watch the show during the summer months. And of course, you should take time to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables and flowers) of your labors. Here are five simple summer maintenance tasks that will your garden looking its best throughout the season and into the fall:
1. Deadhead Container & Bedding Plants
Deadheading is simply removing the faded blossom from a plant by pinching or snipping just below the droopy bloom. This not only makes the plant look better, but it also allows it to put more energy into more flower production. Make a habit of wandering through your garden or around your containers first thing in the morning and deadheading all the spent blossoms you see.
2. Prune Hanging Baskets and Container Plants
In the same vein, summer is a good time to start cutting back the leggy plants in your containers, window boxes and hanging baskets. Snip or pinch them back to the shape you want, which helps the plant conserve energy for producing more blossoms.
3. Remove and Replace Tired Plants
Some of your spring-bought annuals might start looking a little sad by midsummer, no matter how much pruning and deadheading you do. Luckily, midsummer is also the time many garden centers put their annuals on sale. Pulling out the wilted flowers and replacing them will give an instant refresh to your beds and containers.
4. Feed Your Annual Plants
Your annuals are working away developing flowers and leaves during those summer months and need to eat well to maintain their momentum. Keeping them on a diet of well-balanced fertilizer will help them. Stop feeding your perennials when they start to bloom, however. They’re the long-distance runners of the garden, not sprinters like the annuals, and should be given the chance to rest up for the next year.
5. Apply More Mulch
If you put down a thin layer of mulch in spring to keep your plants moist and cool, then the rains and sunlight can break it down my midsummer. A good long water and a three-inch-layer of mulch by the end of July will have your flowers feeling fresh regardless of the temperature.
Summer, with its copious blossoms and fresh fruits and vegetables, may feel like a time when your garden is growing just fine without help from you. But there are still things you can do to keep the garden fresh and bountiful until it’s time to put it to bed in the fall. Put these five simple maintenance tasks on your calendar this summer and be rewarded with a healthy, happy garden all season long.