Summer is the time when a garden gives its owners the most pleasure and just requires light work, but there are still several things to be done if it is to be kept in good condition, especially when the weather is hot and dry. Proper maintenance can keep a garden in tip-top condition even when children are charging through it all day long and dinner parties are being held on the lawn in the evenings. Good planning and a little effort can keep a garden looking beautiful from the end of spring through to when the season fades with the coming of autumn.
Summer gardening tasks
The most important tasks in summer are maintaining the overall health of the garden, and making sure weeds donâ€™t take advantage of the fine weather to speed up their growth. Frequent, effective weeding â€“ ideally by hand or using a spot treatment â€“ can prevent build-up and mean substantially less work needs to be done overall.
Many people over-fertilize their gardens in the summer; this can encourage problem weeds and â€“ unless the soil is very poor â€“ is not necessary for plants to thrive. In most cases, it is better to use a single dose of slow-release nitrogenous fertilizer just before the warm weather starts, and then focus on proper hydration. Not all parts of the garden will need the same amount of water and this should be remembered when watering; if water is delivered evenly, grass around trees may wither as the tree roots draw all of the moisture in, while delicate flowers like pansies and primroses can become waterlogged.
Looking after the lawn
One of the biggest mistakes people make with their lawn in the summer is to cut it too short. Grass, just like human skin, can burn in the sun. If grass blades are longer, parts of them will remain in shade and they will be better able to regulate their temperature. Where a garden is showing signs of scorching, it is better to leave the blades about three inches long. Small gardens can easily be maintained with trimmers or electric mowers, while for big lawns it is worth considering getting a good quality motorized mower (there is some excellent advice about mowers on PSEPâ€™s blog).
Looking after flowers and vegetables
Ideally, gardens should be planted so that trees, shrubs, or walls shade delicate flowers while hardier ones enjoy the sun. Unfortunately this doesnâ€™t always work out, so sometimes artificial shade needs to be created in summer. It is advisable to use breathable canvas for this as plastics can lead to heat building up and the sheltered plants being cooked.
Disease in plants is a far bigger problem when the weather is hot, so leaves should be checked regularly for signs of mottling and infected plants should be promptly removed. A little supplementary magnesium mixed into water and delivered early in the morning can strengthen plants and help to boost their natural defenses.
Summer gardening is a fantastic activity for the whole family to do together, spending some time outdoors while working to make the outdoor space beautiful. There are plenty of small tasks children can do, and giving them their own plants to raise â€“ especially vegetables which they will be able to eat at the end of the season â€“ teaches them about the importance of cultivation and where food comes from.