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  • Writer's pictureMatt Weber

Summer Garden Maintenance Tips

(guest post courtesy of Valerie Smith)

The summer season is approaching and, as all of us garden-lovers know, this could mean stress for your plants. It’s good to know what will ultimately help your garden flourish during the hottest part of the year. Read on for a list of summer garden maintenance tips.

1. Deadhead and Prune

First, there’s a difference between deadheading and pruning. When you deadhead a plant, you’re removing dead leaves or blossoms. Pruning, on the other hand, means you’re removing any part of the plant to make it smaller in some way.

Deadheading before summertime allows your plants to keep producing. It tricks the plant into thinking it needs to produce more. Pruning established plants at this time, like fruit trees for example, allows them to also produce more. Additionally, pruning reduces shade and increases air circulation to help your plants grow. Pruning helps with slow growth, disease or insect resistance and it restores the shape and structure of trees and shrubs.

2. Keep Soil Moist but Don’t Overwater

The summer season is probably one of the most important times to keep your garden hydrated. A mistake many gardeners make, however, is overwatering plants. Overwatering plants increases the likelihood of disease outbreaks. Fungi thrive in warm, moist areas, so if you’ve overwatered your garden, you may have just given fungi a home.

A good soak every 3–4 days in the morning will help plant roots dig deeper into the soil where they will be cooler. Even if you see damage on the plant above ground, the roots below ground may have a better chance of surviving the heat of summer.

Most importantly, keep an eye on any wilting plant—especially those located in direct sunlight. Check the soil around the plant to see if it’s damp or dry. If it’s dry, go ahead and water those specific plants again.

3. Fertilize

Fertilization is an important part of summer garden care. It provides your garden with nutrients to withstand the summer heat and continue flourishing.

Sod University recommends two different fertilizer options for the summer; however you will only need to use one of the two options for summer fertilization. Using both at the same time may result in burns in your lawn.

Option 1: Lawnifi® Summer Fertilizer Box is a liquid fertilizer program designed to give plants the nutrients they need to survive and flourish during hot summer months. With one bottle of Maintain and two bottles of Recover, the Summer Fertilizer Box’s application schedule provide garden nutrition all summer long. Maintain’s 16-0-4 formulation works to fortify plants with potassium, amino acids and carbon. Recover’s 13-0-0 formulation provides the optimal balance of nutrients to gardens as temperatures start to rise. In addition to nitrogen, Recover delivers critical micronutrients like soluble manganese, iron, sulfur and carbon. Each bottle hooks right up to the end of your garden hose for an even spray application.

Option 2: Lawnifi Foundation, a granular fertilizer option that comes in a 25-pound bag and feeds for three months. With a 29-0-5 NPK formulation, Lawnifi Foundation is an ideal granular fertilizer for gardens. The two-percent iron included in Lawnifi Foundation’s mixture helps plants carry oxygen throughout the leaves, roots and other parts of the plant to promote a green, healthy lawn. Featuring slow-release nitrogen, Foundation gradually feeds your garden over an extended period of time without overwhelming the lawn. Both Lawnifi Foundation and the Summer Fertilizer Box cover 5,000 sq. ft.

4. Keep an Eye Out for Pesky Insects

As temperatures climb, more and more insects start coming out. Depending on where you live, you may experience a really “buggy” summer. Believe it or not, there are many insects and bugs that can harm your garden. You may be familiar with some of the ones listed below:

● Aphids

● Caterpillars

● Japanese beetles

● Spittlebugs

● Fire ants

● Cutworms

● Scales

● Spider mites

● Squash bug

Despite the long list of harmful garden insects, there are good ones to keep an eye out for. Some of these include honeybees, earwigs or paper wasps.

5. Prevent Weeds

It’s typically not a good idea to apply any weed-control products during the summer. Due to high temperatures, weed control can sometimes burn or damage desired plants when applied. If you’ve noticed weeds sprouting, make a mental note to apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring next year to prevent weeds from popping up.

Next, a solution could be to hand-pull the weeds or spot treat them. If temperatures are consistently below 85 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s generally safe to apply post-emergent herbicides for any summer annual and perennial weeds.

However, we suggest waiting until it gets closer to the fall season. If temperatures are low one day and exceed 85 degrees in the following days, the grass is still vulnerable to damage from the herbicide.

A last, effective solution is to prevent any future weeds from surfacing by adding mulch to gardens. This makes it hard for unwanted weeds to access sunlight or to grow through the layer of mulch.

6. Add Temporary Shade

Creating shady areas to place potted plants in or to cover your garden is extremely beneficial as it keeps plants from getting too heat stressed. Here are a few ideas:

● Plant other plants like sunflowers to help block the sun. Sunflowers love full sun, so they will thrive in this environment.

● Use a shade cloth to cover the area of plants that need shade.

Use umbrellas to create shade.

7. Transplant Now

Before the onset of summer heat, it’s highly recommended to do any necessary transplanting now. Transplanting during the summer is actually more stressful for plants. The summer heat can be intense. Plants are already transpiring moisture at this time, so transplanting is stressful. Transplant now before temperatures get too warm so that the plants have time to establish roots in their new environments.

8. Remove Spring Plants and Add Summer and Fall Plants

Certain vegetables like tomatoes and peppers grow well in the spring as they are warm season plants. This means they won’t grow as well during the fall. Remove any spring crops and start adding fall crops in the late summer. The same can be said for spring and fall ornamentals.

Now that you have an idea of some things you can do to help your garden during the summer season, it’ll be more than ready to tackle the highest temperatures of the year. Happy gardening!

Editor's Note: This article was written by Sod Solutions Content Strategist, Valerie Smith. Want to learn more about achieving a great lawn? Check out more Sod University tips here and subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

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