Learn what to look for and how to maintain backyard gardens, porch plants, and landscapes during the summer months. Photo by Ken Johnson, Illinois Extension.

Tips for Getting Landscape Plants Through Summer

By Ken Johnson, Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator

URBANA, Ill. — While much of the work done in the garden happens in the spring, that doesn’t mean growers can coast through summer.
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Supplemental watering, weeding, and managing pests will go a long way to keep landscapes growing through the summer. 

Water

As the temperatures heat up and the spigot in the sky turns off, providing supplemental water to plants is often necessary. Gardeners can water plants in various ways, from just the hose with a nozzle to overhead sprinklers or drip irrigation. Most plants will need 1 to 2 inches of water a week, either through rainfall or irrigation. Mulch will help retain soil moisture, meaning those beds may not have to be watered as often.

Keep a close eye on raised beds and container gardens. Raised beds and containers dry out much faster than plants in the ground. Therefore, these will likely need to be watered more frequently. It’s not uncommon to have to water potted plants daily during hot, dry stretches of weather. 

Weeds

Make sure to stay on top of weeds and don’t allow them to go to seed. Mechanical, hand pulling or hoeing is a good way to control small weeds or weeds in small areas. In larger areas, herbicides may be the best option for management. 

Mulching around plants can also help keep weeds down in flower beds, around trees, and in vegetable gardens. Try using organic mulches like wood chips, straw, or shredded leaves. Not only will it help keep weeds down, but as the mulches break down, they will also add organic matter to the soil. 

Pests

Pest populations can also explode as the temperatures continue to heat up. It is important to go out and scout the landscape at least once a week. This will help to keep track of what’s going on in a garden space and help to stay on top of any pests that may be present. 

When managing pests in a landscape, try to use integrated pest management practices. Depending on the pest, there may be management options other than spraying pesticides. Using cultural, physical, and biological management techniques can often provide adequate control of pests.

Flowers

Many annual flowers don’t require much care other than the occasional watering. However, some will benefit from deadheading or removing the flowers after they bloom. Doing this encourages the plants to produce more flowers and helps keep them from looking ragged. Some annuals that may benefit from deadheading are geraniums, marigolds, salvia, and snapdragons. 

Vegetables

Make sure to harvest vegetables like cucumbers, sweet corn, and green beans at the proper time. Also, keep up with harvesting other vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers. 

Come July and August, gardeners can begin planting a fall garden. Many cool-season vegetables grown in the spring, like broccoli, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, and spinach, can be planted again in mid-to-late summer to extend the growing season. 

For more summer gardening tips, check out the Good Growing blog at go.illinois.edu/GoodGrowing. For questions, contact a local University of Illinois Extension office at go.illinois.edu/ExtensionOffice.

Ken Johnson is an Illinois Extension horticulture educator for Calhoun, Cass, Greene, Morgan, and Scott countiesGardeners Corner is a quarterly newsletter from gardening experts around the state. Each issue highlights best practices that will make your houseplants, landscape, or garden shine in any season. Join the Gardener’s Corner email list at go.illinois.edu/GCsubscribe for direct access to timely tips.

ABOUT ILLINOIS EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. 

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