Learn what not to do in your garden this summer

Do you do to-do lists?  I do. They help keep me focused and organized.  And boy is it satisfying to check things off.  But this time of year, I have another list, a summer What Not To-Do List for my garden.  This keeps me from serious missteps which can harm plants or waste time and money.   

Don’t: Plant

First on my What Not To-Do List is planting.  It’s just too hot and dry for plants to establish well.  Spring and fall are your best planting times.  Be wise and wait.  I know there are plant bargains to be had now.  As a career tightwad I’m tempted, too.  Don’t succumb.  

Don’t: Dig or Divide

No digging and dividing either.  Most plants prefer to have this done in spring or fall so they can settle in and develop robust roots before extreme weather.  So step away from that shovel. If you do plant or divide plants in summer you will need to water, water and water again, a significant time drain.  And still, your plants will be stressed. Very stressed.  

Don’t: Prune

Third on my What Not To-Do List is pruning.  Trees hate to be pruned in summer.  They weep copious sap and those wounds attract the abundant insects and diseases afoot now.  Summer pruning courts disaster.  Instead, prune trees in the dormant season – January to mid-March – when they are less vulnerable.  

Don’t: Overwater Lawns  

The dormant season is different for lawns.  Established tall fescue lawns naturally brown in the hot, dry days of summer.  That’s okay.  It’s their way of conserving energy and water. 

Your lawn isn’t dead, just resting.  So let it nap.  

Resist the urge to grab the hose or fire up the sprinklers. Your lawn will be just fine, greening up with the next rains.  Only newly seeded or sodded lawns need regular watering. Not watering your summer lawn can save you considerable money on your water bills.  Up to 70 percent of a home’s total water usage is for lawn irrigation. 

Don’t: Water Plants Daily

Want to save even more time and money?  Don’t water your plants daily, our knee-jerk reaction to blistering heat.  This is in boldface on my What Not To-Do List.

Daily sprinkles encourage shallow roots and vegetable problems such as blossom end rot.  Water deeply less often to encourage deep roots and healthier plants that naturally resist drought.  

Container gardens are the exception.  Since they dry out faster, they may need to be watered daily. Watch your plants and let them tell you what they need.    

Don’t: Apply Weed Control Chemicals

Many weed control products don’t work well in blistering heat, so put that on your What Not To-do list as well.  Check the label and apply at the right time – and temperature – for the plant and product.  

Have you noticed a common thread in all of these What Not To-Do List items?  They are all time-savers.  Wouldn’t you rather be hanging out in your hammock than doing needless tasks?

I hope my What Not To-Do List keeps your landscape healthier and gives you more time to relax and enjoy the dog days of summer. 

By Annette Cormany, Principal Agent Associate and Master Gardener Coordinator, Washington County, University of Maryland Extension. This article was previously published by Herald-Mail Media. Read more by Annette.

This article was previously published by Herald-Mail Media.

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