Early summer is kind to gardens. Many perennials have begun blooming, annuals are still looking fresh from planting, and lawns are green and glowing from an abundance of rainfall.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if one could do something to freeze-frame this glorious time?
Spending some time now doing preventative maintenance can keep your landscape looking its best and reduce gardening chores later.
If spring weeding wasn’t accomplished, get out there and tackle those weeds that have taken advantage of the abundant spring rains before they get out of control.
It’s particularly important to rid the garden of weeds before they go to seed and spread even more voraciously.
Hand pulling is kindest to the environment. If chemical means are the desired method, be sure to read and follow the directions carefully.
Placing mulch around plants will reduce weeds as well as retain soil moisture decreasing the need for watering when summer heats up. It also makes gardens look manicured.
An organic mulch will eventually break down and enrich the soil. Apply mulch about 2 inches deep around perennials, heavier around shrubs.
Take care to keep mulch an inch or so away from the crowns of plants.
Staking or supporting the stems of plants is best done early when the plant is still short. It is a lot easier to place a support around small, young foliage rather than a tangled mass of leaves and flowers. There is a wide variety of supports available — some are suited for specific plants like gridded rings for peonies. Other options include stakes, branches like curly willow, metal half round supports or stakes with rings of various sizes just to name a few.
Cutting back is a method used to rejuvenate a plant by forcing a flush of new growth. It can also be done to remove diseased foliage caused by powdery mildew on phlox or bee balm. Plants that respond to cutting back include Silver Mound Artemesia, geraniums and creeping phlox. Catmint and salvia will likely rebloom after shearing back by half after the first flush of blooms has faded. Lamium also benefits from a haircut.
Deadheading is the removal of spent flowers. It is essential to keeping the garden looking its best. Annuals benefit from having their faded flowers removed regularly. It encourages the production of more flowers and prevents plants from going to seed. Generally, the cut is made just above new buds. If new buds are not visible, prune to the end of the stem of the faded flower.
Perennials benefit from deadheading, too. The bloom time of some perennials can be prolonged when their faded flowers are promptly removed. Just a few that benefit from this practice include bee balm, Shasta daisies, salvia and scabiosa.
Time invested now will keep your gardens looking neat and increase leisure time later in the season.