Summer Gardening Tips

Summer is here and that means school is out (Congrats Class of 2018), weekend family BBQs, vacations, and heat!  While we take measures to care for ourselves and our pets, what happens to our precious gardens?  You can safely assume that if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your garden.  So what do you do?  Fortunately, we’ve put together a list of six gardening tips to help you and your garden beat the heat this summer.
  1. Water early in the morning or late in the evening.  Although we like to cool down in the middle of the day with some cool water or a dip in the pool, this is not the case for plants.  Watering them during the hottest part of the day can actually burn the leaves.  Instead, water early in the morning or late in the evening so that the roots can absorb the water.  Not only is this good for your plants, but it’s better for you so that you can avoid a sunburn or overheating.  And remember, if you must do some yard work during the middle of the day, be sure to apply sunblock, drink plenty of water, and work in the shade.
  2. Position your potted plants with care.  Have you ever touched a terracotta pot in the middle of the day?  They get hot and this leaves your potted plants vulnerable to overheating.  If possible, position your potted plants out of the hot western sun or consider using a shade cloth to offer some temporary shade for those extreme heat days.  It’s also a good idea to add some new potting soil to your potted plants each year since the soil becomes depleted over time.
  3. Slow down.  In order to decrease runoff and allow the water to soak into the soil, irrigate slowly.  When the water soaks deep into the soil, this encourage deep root systems that protect your plants against drought and hot weather.  Consider installing a soaker hose or drip-irrigation system instead of watering with an overhead sprinkler or with a hose.
  4. Wait to prune.  Save your heavy pruning for the winter or early spring.  Instead, stick with light pruning and maintenance.  Keep your flowering plants happy by deadheading (cutting off the dead or dying flowers).  Not only will your plants look better, but they will reward you with even more blossoms since the plant is no longer wasting energy on dead flowers.  Moreover, the dead flowers will not become a breeding ground for pests or fungi.
  5. Create a healthy soil environment.  Fertilizer and mulch are two great ways to create nutrient rich and moisture retaining soil.  When buying a fertilizer, make sure to go for the “controlled release” forms during the summer months.  This will feed your plans over an extended period of time without stressing them.  Next, use mulch to help with weed control and to maintain moisture in the soil.  As an added benefit, when the mulch begins to break down it will add nutrients back into the soil, mimicking Mother Nature.
  6. Enjoy your garden and outdoor living spaces!  There is nothing quite like a perfect summer evening in Lamorinda.