The Dog Days of Summer…What to do in your yard when it’s almost too hot to be out there? Let’s talk…
All year long we work tirelessly to amend the soil, plant new plants, fertilize, and prune so that we can enjoy watching our landscapes explode with color and wildlife. The challenge is having to do this from inside the house because it’s too hot outside! In Texas, we are used to warm summers, but warm and extremely dry can be tough on our trees, bedding and grass. Recently, even I have been looking for things to do in the yard that might be beneficial that don’t include digging and manual labor. Here are a few suggestions that can keep you engaged in the yard without too much over exertion!
First, take a notepad and pencil and quickly do a bubble diagram of your yard. This can be a very simple diagram. Your diagram should include a basic home layout, beds and pool. This is not a technical drawing so beginners should feel at ease. Once you have completed that in the comfort of your home lets go out to the yard, preferably in the early morning or evening, where we can write down a few quick notes.
Water, water, water…. Very little rain means stress on plants. Evaluate the sprinklers in your yard. Locate all sprinklers and put them on your diagram (sometimes we can’t find them!). Have you added a new bed and never adjusted the sprinklers? Make a notation on your diagram where these might go. If your sprinkler system has a test cycle you can run each cycle for 2 minutes and make sure plants haven’t grown too tall and are blocking others. Maybe roots have altered the angle of the head or the direction of the spray needs to be changed. Adjusting length of time for zones with full sun is critical this time of year to make sure the water is getting where it needs to go. Lastly, often we have favorites…yes, we all have a few, plants that is…maybe ones that were given to us by family or friends and we want to save them. Make a notation on your diagram of those that have sentimental meaning or those that just bring great joy…sometimes we have to choose to focus our attention on a few vs. many this time of year.
Sun, sun, sun…yes, you can have too much of a good thing! Take notice of areas where plants seem to be getting too much sun. Make an indication on your bubble diagram and designate areas where you should, or could, add a tree for shade in the fall. A full sun plant might not survive in “Houston” full sun. Due to our climate people will often install evergreen trees on the south side of the house to provide protection from the sun and deciduous on the north. Ask yourself, did a tree die from the cold this past winter and now shade plants are getting too much sun and no rain? Creating a list of “to do” items for fall like getting quotes to remove dead trees and branches, so there are no safety concerns, is a great idea. Most companies don’t charge to come give a quote.
INSECTS, need I say more??? THEY’RE HERE! The conditions are prime for insects so look over, under and around your plants. If you are unsure of what the issue is, bring in a sample in a sealed plastic bag to the garden center and we will help you diagnose and find treatment if needed.
Views, views, views…when it’s this hot out we also spend a lot of time looking at the yard from inside the house…what are your focal points in the garden when you look out the window? Does your design take advantage of your views? Can you see any color? Make notations on your diagram of where to plant summer blooming perennials or trees so they are seen through the windows in your house where they are best enjoyed this time of year. Conversely, make notations of unsightly things you might want to hide.
Décor, décor, décor… do your indoor plants need bigger pots? This is a great time to purchase indoor plants and buy garden décor for your patio and yard! Create a beautiful vignette on a coffee table or mantel. No digging required! Bird feeders and fountains help the wildlife. Purchase a beautiful rain catcher for the fall or an obelisk for a vine. We spend a lot of time decorating the inside of our homes and often forget to add ornamentals to the garden. Stone pieces like statues, sun dials or an armillary can pull a design together. Walk your garden and create “rooms” by purchasing arbors to define entrances.
For the garden lover there is always a season for planning and tweaking…in Houston, it’s the dog days of summer….