Summer Garden Maintenance

Summer is a time to sit out in the garden and enjoy the features that you have created; the beautiful flowers that bloom, the well maintained lawn, the soothing water features. But, there is still some work to be done to keep all these features looking their best. Don’t worry; it’s not too much work. Just enough to protect what you have created form the elements. A very hot and dry spell can do a lot of damage to a garden. Here are some tasks which you may need to carry out:

July jobs:

• Make sure birds have water in dry weather. Birds are very important to the gardener’s environment. It may not always seem so (i.e. when they are raiding your fruits) but they do have their place in the natural order of things.

• Keep young plants and bedding fed and watered. Young, fast growing plants need energy sustenance to achieve their full potential.

• Deadhead flowers as they fade. It is important to make way for new growth, and also for appearances sake. There is nothing worse than having dead flowers on display in your garden.

• Prune shrubs that flower in early summer. This will encourage new growth and will also provide a platform for the new blooms. • Plant your autumn flowering bulbs. Get them in now and water them well. Don’t forget to keep an eye on them during the warm weather to come as you don’t want them to suffer from a lack of water.

• Pinch out runner beans as they reach the top of their canes

• Make plans for someone to water your garden if you go away on holiday. You don’t want to come back to a barren wasteland when you have put so much effort into getting your garden looking great.

August jobs:

• Keep ponds topped up – if you have a water feature in your garden the natural heat during the mid to late summer months will have an effect on the water levels. There will be a lot of evaporation and there may even be other factors involved such as animals drinking from the water feature. Both of these will reduce the water levels beyond what is needed to sustain, not only the appearance, but the effectiveness of the water feature to sustain whatever plant and fish/animal life live in the water feature environment. If possible top up with rainwater as using tap water, which is full of nutrients, can encourage the growth of algae.

• Water plants as they need it – keep an eye on plants and if you notice them wilting or drooping then apply water and watch the life return to them. Don’t overdo it as you can drown some plants.

• Trim hedges – cut back in late summer to prepare for the new growth in the spring.

• Prune back rambling roses, and trim lavender as it fades

• Mow grass less frequently if the weather is hot and dry. If you cut grass too short in this type of weather you may lose it.

Rock Garden Maintenance

If you have made a rock garden or raised bed by following the basic rules, then routine maintenance should be a straight forward task. It will not call for skill as required in the pruning of fruit trees nor the heavy work demanded in the vegetable plot. You should not be troubled by weeds for some time and the plants will flourish in the well drained, gritty conditions you have provided for them. But regular maintenance is not something you can ignore. Leave a shrub border untended for a season and no great harm may result, but leave a rock garden for a year and it may well be ruined.

Treat rock garden care as a routine once-a-week job during the growing season, in the same way as you may treat house plant and lawn maintenance. Weed control will be the major task. Keep the area free from dead plants and debris, and water only when necessary. Dead-head spent flowers where practical, especially if the variety can become a nuisance by self seeding. Label plants which die down for part of the year.

Autumn is the major overhaul time of the year. All fallen leaves must be removed and the stems of rampant plants must be cut back. Do not leave this job for the spring. Cover winter sensitive plants. In spring renew the grit mulch, feed, remove winter protection, firm plants which have been lifted by frost and look for slug damage.

All this advise may have come too late – the rockery may already be over-run by weeds and it is covered with straggly rampant alpines due to past neglect. There is no easy answer. You will have to start again. Remove the soil from affected area, replace it with new planting mixture and then replant.

Weeding Your Garden:
Weeding your garden is one of the most tedious of all maintenance jobs, and prevention is so much easier than cure. Begin at construction time, make sure that the planting site is free from all perennial weeds and that weed roots are absent from the topsoil used for making the planting mixture. As described below, a mulch of grit on rockery and raised bed gardens or bark on peat gardens will help to prevent weeds.

It is unfortunate that however careful you are at the construction stage, weeds will still appear and they must be tackled promptly as dwarf plants such as alpines can easily be swamped by them. There are a number of sources of these weeds, and you can cut down the work of weeding if you take preventive measures. Firstly, weeds are often brought in with the plants, always check carefully and pull out stems and roots of any weeds which are growing on the soil surface of the pot.

Next, perennials can creep n from surrounding land so try to create some form of weed-proof barrier if this is likely. Finally, weed seeds are blown on to the site – remember that this includes the seed from nearby rock garden plants which readily produce self-sown seedlings. Dead-heading and weed control in surrounding land will reduce this problem.

Hoeing is not practical where a grit mulch is used. Pulling out weeds by hand is the usual way to tackle the problem, you may need to trowel if the roots are firmly anchored. Of course not all self-sewn alpines are weeds, you will only need to pull out seedlings which are growing where they are not wanted. Perennial weeds are a difficult problem when the roots are too deep and widespread to be removed. The answer here is to paint the leaves very carefully with glyphsate – never spray weed killers ans never use lawn-type ones.

Water Garden Maintenance – How to Water Your Garden

Maintaining your pond or backyard water garden is the least favorite of all water gardening activities. Thankfully, it rarely takes a long time, and except for ending up wet and dirty, is not difficult to do. If you keep your pond balanced ecologically, water garden maintenance is easy and rare. A eco-balanced pond has one bunch of submerged vegetation per square foot of pond surface, has at least 50% of the surface covered by floating plants for shade, has no more than one linear foot of fish per 25 square feet of pond surface area, only goldfish. And most important, you do not feed your fish Once you have gotten your pond balanced, maintenance is easy.

There are some tasks that must be done regularly to keep your balanced pond balanced. Most of the time water garden maintenance is a matter of removing aquatic plants rather than adding to them. Aquatic plants are weeds occurring in swamps and will take over the pond if given a chance. So in doing your water garden monthly maintenance, remove all dead or dying plant material. If left to decompose, it can foul your water and kill your fish.

If you have water lilies, fertilize them monthly during the summer months. Use one fertilizer tab per gallon of pot. Often water lilies are planted in shallow and wide pots. Give them two tabs monthly from the time the pads reach the water in the spring until the lily begins to go dormant in the fall. You can tell when the dormancy begins. The pads will get smaller and the lily will bloom less often.

Each month remove all debris from the bottom of the pond. Use a fish net or pond vacuum cleaner. Usually a fish net is that is needed unless the pond is under trees.

Clean a filter monthly unless you have a biofilter which needs to have a thriving bacterial community growing in it. Just rinse out the biofilter and replace it. With a mechanical filter, usually a block of foam rubber in a box, remove it, rinse it until the water runs clear and replace it. Do not wring it out like a dishcloth or it will deteriorate quickly and you will need a new one.

Remove any hoses from the pump and using your garden hose with a powerful nozzle, clean out the pump hoses. Usually much algae will come out of the hoses. Your fish will eat it and love it.

Using that same garden hose, blast any debris or algae growth off your surrounding rocks and waterfall. Your fish will eat this as well.

Top off the pond if any water has evaporated. If you add more than 10& water by volume, don’t forget to add a dechlorinator. That will dissipate any chlorine and heavy metals found in most city water.

Check all hose connections, check your waterfall to make sure all water is falling back in the pond and not leaking off the side of the falls.

Monthly water garden maintenance is easy and takes just a few minutes. Your pond will stay clean and continue to give you hours of pleasure.