Northern California is a gardener’s paradise, offering a climate that’s ideal for growing many edible and ornamental crops that can turn any yard into an oasis of colors and flavors. Sometimes, though, the heat of midsummer can make maintaining a healthy garden and landscape a bit of a challenge, especially when those maintenance needs are competing with other pursuits, like summer vacations and weekend trips to the beach or woods. Fortunately, all it takes is a little careful planning and a few helpful tips to allow you to enjoy a beautiful landscape and garden without giving up time for other leisurely activities. Here’s what you should be doing now to keep your lawn and garden in top shape:
- Mow long for healthier roots. Mowing isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of fun, but cutting short to extend time between each mowing can damage your grass over time. Set your mower blades so only about a third of the grass shoots are cut with each pass, leaving the remaining two-thirds of the shoot length in place to provide important nutrients to the roots and a healthier, greener lawn.
- Mulch for moisture. A two- to four-inch layer of organic matter placed on top of garden beds controls weeds while also retaining moisture so you don’t need to water as often to keep plants healthy. Keep mulch away from stems and trunks to prevent rot.
- Provide support. If you have fruit trees, now’s the time to make sure the branches are supported to prevent breakage. Wooden supports placed beneath fruit-laden branches are a quick way to maintain healthy limbs. Make it a regular habit to remove fallen fruit to prevent diseases and insect infestations.
- Plant some pesto. Tomato season is in full swing, and it’s not too late to plant some basil to enjoy a late-summer Caprese salad and lots of pesto for autumn snacking. Purple and green varieties add visual interest to any space, and they grow well in pots too.
- Water right. Vegetables and flowers can benefit from some extra moisture this time of year, and in California, we have to make every drop count. If you don’t have drip irrigation in place, use a bucket and dipper to make sure water reaches the roots and avoiding spraying the leaves to prevent many diseases and mildew issues.
- Deadhead and pinch back. Plan for a flush of fall foliage and blooms by removing spent flowers and pinching back plants that have become too leggy. Divide irises and daylilies for healthier plants next spring.
Having a beautiful landscape and garden doesn’t have to compete with other summertime pleasures. Add these tasks to your to-do list and spend a little time each week completing them for a home landscape that will reward you for years to come.