After working hard during our Spring Planting Season, we’re ready to kick back and enjoy our landscapes for the lazier days of Summer. However, we’ll have better success (hence, more enjoyment of our landscapes) if we are attentive to the needs of our landscapes during these often hot and dry months. Here are some check points:
Watering: The best time to water is early in the morning/day before it gets hot. We’ll waste less water through evaporation and provide moisture to our plants to help combat the stress of high temperatures and low rainfall later in the day. Most plants, once established, will need about 1 inch of rainfall/water per week. One good soaking is greatly more beneficial than several light waterings. Deeper watering encourages the roots to go deeper in the soil to better survive heat and drought.
Mulching: If you haven’t already laid down 2-3 inches of mulch in your landscape beds, around shrubs and trees, do so now. Mulch helps retain moisture in the soil around your plants and controls/reduces weeds. Absorptive mulches (pine straw, wood chips. etc.) means you’ll have to increase your watering a bit to ensure that the necessary amount of moisture gets beyond the mulch. Non-absorptive mulches (synthetic pine straw, etc) do not absorb moisture so all your water gets to the plant roots. Adding a weed-barrier material or damp newspaper or cardboard before installing the mulch will also help with water/moisture retention and weed control.
Dream/Plan: Begin thinking about what new plants you’ll want to add to your landscape in the fall. Visit our nurseries to become an ‘informed shopper’, research plants on-line, etc. Consider native plants that will require less water during future summers. Explore the wide range of new plant introductions, many of them new varieties of old favorites, which will require less maintenance in the future. You may even want to consider reducing the amount of lawn in favor of lower-maintenance trees and shrubs.
Kick back and relax? By all means! But, also begin planning for the future of your landscape. Enjoy!
Phil Easter, SH&G Resident Master Gardener
* Read more from Phil inside each issue of Montgomery Living with his seasonal articles from the section “In the Garden with Phil Easter”!