Summer 2011 Cuttings

Summer is upon us and the first flush of the roses is spent. We are moving into the time of daylilies and dog days! Hydration is not only key for humans but for your plants and pets. Keep a diligent eye on the rain gauge and make sure the perennials, annuals, shrubs, and, most importantly, the new plants and mature trees are deeply irrigated. You don’t want to over water and waste resources, so check out this water-wise tips and watch for more on water conservation ideas in September: 

  • Water deeply and infrequently, so that the water penetrates far down into the soil and provides a reservoir not easily evaporated by the summer heat. Shallow watering can negatively encourage roots to stay near the surface, leaving the plants more susceptible to drought and upheaval. Drip irrigation used for several hours early in the morning is best (rain water is even better!). One inch of water will penetrate clay soils about four to five inches, and loam soils six to eight inches so aim for your garden receiving about one to two inches a week. 

  • Provide a source of clean water for the birds and other wildlife.

  • If you haven’t already, mulch flower beds and shrub borders to retain moisture and keep down weeds. Not only does this aid in water conservation, reduce your water bill, and improve your plant’s health, but soil is a carbon sink; unplanted, unmulched soil releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

  • Raise the deck on lawnmowers to three or four inches so that the shallow roots are better shielded from the sun and heat and need less water.

You are invited to join our horticulture staff in the garden as a volunteer. This is a great way to learn new gardening techniques. As you do your mid to late summer gardening remember to:

  • Keep on top of the weeds, especially those that reseed easily.

  • Stop fertilizing trees and shrubs to avoid encouraging tender new growth that will burn easily in the heat. If you must, use a low-analysis, zero-phosphate, organic, slow-release fertilizer.

  • The only pruning that should be done in your summer garden is the removal of dead, damaged, or diseased wood. Leave the suckers and water sprouts alone until the fall, as they are aiding in the health of the plant.

  • A second pass with the hedging shears on Arborvitae, Yew, Hemlock and Juniper may be done now to maintain their size and shape as well as increase density. Remember that the top should be narrower than the base of the hedge.

  • If you haven’t already, begin planning your fall vegetable garden. If growing from seed, make sure they have enough time to mature before the first autumn frost.

  • Do a final pinching on fall-blooming plant such as Chrysanthemums and Asters.