Spreading a 2-inch-deep layer of mulch over your soil is one of the best things you can do for your garden. The mulch blankets the ground, shielding the soil from the sun. This keeps it cooler, so your plant roots are happier, and prevents moisture loss from evaporation.
Happily, there's not a single best type of mulch. Anything made from organic matter -- shredded wood, pine straw, a mix of grass clippings and shredded leaves, etc. -- is going to help your soil in the long run as it decomposes and adds to your soil structure.
Learn more about mulch.
Many pesky weeds love summer heat and quickly take the jump from tiny to gigantic. It's important to pull them from your garden, because weeds steal moisture and nutrients from your plants. Many weeds also encourage insect pests and diseases to pop up in your garden.
Weeds are easiest to pull when they're young and small. They also come out of the ground easiest when the soil is moist. Another reason to get them while they're young: You can stop weeds from producing seeds. A single dandelion plant can produce 2,000 seeds in a year. A weed such as lamb's quarters can produce 150,000 seeds in a year. That's a lot of future weeding you can save yourself from doing!
Check out our Weed Identification Guide.
Video: Get weeding tips.
Once summer heat arrives, many spring-blooming annuals such as pansy, viola, and osteospermum fade. Make your yard look its best by pulling out the spent plants and replacing them with heat-loving varieties such as angelonia, lantana, ageratum, coleus, pentas, portulaca, salvia, sweet potato vine, and zinnia. Heat-loving annuals grow quickly in warm temperatures and will soon provide a beautiful burst of color.
Note: Don't be afraid to renew color in your landscape by replacing summer annuals damaged by drought, pests, or diseases.
Discover top annuals in our Plant Encyclopedia.
Summer bulbs such as calla, canna, and dahlia are surefire ways to add color and drama to your landscape all summer long. These varieties are tender, so if you live in a Zone where they're not hardy, plant them after all danger of frost has passed. Once temperatures rise, they grow quickly.
Discover our favorite summer bulbs.
Keep mums, sedums, asters, and other fall-blooming perennials standing tall by pinching the top inch or two of new growth. You can do so up to the Fourth of July.
Pinching the tops of the plant typically gives you a more compact, sturdy specimen. It may also give you more blooms from the sideshoots that develop, though the blooms are typically a little smaller and appear a couple of weeks later.
Other perennials that you can pinch in May and June:
- Balloon flower
- Bee balm
- Joe Pye weed
- Perennial sunflower
- Russian sage
Continued on page 2: Midsummer