July and August are called the dog days of summer for a reason. Many people like to lie down and sleep on a hot afternoon, just like their dog does. If you and your dog just want to be left alone, what makes you think your landscape plants want to be pampered on hot days?
I recommend that you get everything done now and then just sit back and take in the beauty of your landscape in the height of its summer glory. I’ve written recently about the need to water and to not fertilize at this time. So, what’s there to do?
One task you can do all summer is deadhead your flowers. Deadheading is removing spent flowers before they go to seed. This enables the plant to redirect its energy to producing another flush of flowers, rather than dropping seeds. Also, make sure all your plants are well mulched. Mulch moderates soil temperatures, cooling it in summer and warming it in winter.
Deadheading and mulching can actually extend the life of your flowering annuals, saving you time and money. You may be able to keep these plants productive by flowering all the way to fall if you water them when they need it, as well as deadheading and mulching. Why not make it a goal to try extending your spring/summer annuals until your garden store has mums and other fall annuals?
If you maintained the mulch in your planting beds all season, you probably won’t have to add any now. Just fluff up what you have. Of the three annual maintenance tasks recommended above, mulching is the most strenuous. If you can avoid it, you’ll feel better. And on oppressively hot days, don’t do any strenuous work. Stay inside and enjoy your beautiful landscape from the air-conditioned comfort of your house.
Deadheading and watering are less strenuous and can be done in relative comfort on most summer days, except for those so oppressive that it’s best to stay inside. Be sure you protect yourself against the sun with a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen on exposed skin.
Even on comfortable summer days, the best times to work outside are early in the morning or in the late afternoon or early evening. Besides being comfortable for you, watering at those times will save you money on your water bill. You lose a lot of water to evaporation if you irrigate in the heat of the day.
Containerized annuals continue to grow in popularity every year. If you’re among those using this method to display plants, keep in mind that they must be watered more often than in-ground plants. It’s the only maintenance task container gardeners have need to do more often than non-container gardeners.
All the spring work you put into your landscape should be undertaken with the ultimate objective of just coasting through summer. Enjoy the dog days of summer just like Fido – by sitting in the shade and enjoying the fruits of your labors. Fall, and its many landscape chores will be here before you know it.