It’s been one hot and dry summer so far; and now that August is at its end, your garden might be looking a little worse for wear. Don’t panic, there are still some things that can be done in late summer to revive the garden, and enjoy it for many weeks to come.
It’s a good time to look around and see where there are bare spots in the garden. We often see these bare spots because plants purchased in spring were spring or early summer bloomers. It’s a good time to go to the local garden centre and pick some plants that will give us bloom in late summer and early autumn, but be careful; planting at this time will require some extra care as temperatures are high and rainfall has been low. New plants will need regular watering so that they have a chance to lock their roots into the soil.
Watering should be your number one concern when it comes to your already established gardens. It is important to keep plants watered consistently during the heat of summer so that you don’t have to work so hard to revive the garden late summer. On average, plants need about one inch of water per week and it is best to give it that whole inch at one time. A good deep watering once a week helps the plant develop a deep root system and gives the plant a good reservoir of water from which to draw. Avoid frequent sprinkling as it never wets the soil thoroughly. During really hot weather you may need to make that inch of water available every five days instead of every week. Also, try not to water plants during the daytime high temperatures. Water early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid scorching your plants.
Mulch can also play an important role in the garden in late summer. Mulch helps conserve water, keeps root systems cooler, and reduces weeds. During this time of year, inspect your mulch to see if it is still intact or if it has decayed down to a thin layer. A 2-3 inch layer of mulch is a good amount. Less than that may be insufficient to get the job done. If your mulch layer has depleted, go ahead and top it up!
Your plants may need to be rejuvenated in late summer. If some of your perennials have turned brown or become tattered, cut them back and then give them some water to encourage new growth. Many perennials respond well to this – plants that don’t regrow now, will do so next spring.
Deadheading can also improve the look of the late summer garden. Remove spent flowers to keep the garden tidy. You may not want to deadhead everything, especially if you are trying to get plants to naturalize or if you are trying to attract the bees and the birds. Know what your purpose is and then deadhead select plants.
A final task and the one many gardeners dread is weeding. Sometimes our late season gardens look bad because the weeds have gained a foothold. Get out and get the weeds out! The garden will begin to look better immediately, and your perennials will grow better without the competition of the weeds.
Don’t let late summer take its toll or control of your garden. Follow these few simple tips to maintaining your late summer garden so you can keep the garden beautiful and productive throughout the entire season.