As we draw nearer to mid-summer, our stock of available perennials, shrubs, and annuals is reduced, but our continued devotion to keeping our plants in healthy condition remains intact. Gardeners stopping out are likely to find selections of perennials and shrubs that will work well in the landscape or garden setting along with some geraniums for seasonal color.
Cut back the Orientale Poppies that have finished blooming. I prune the entire plant down to about 6 inches since the unattractive foliage starts flopping around and looks shabby. This cutback will give surrounding plants the space and light they need to grow.
Trim rangeland grass growing at the base of trees, shrubs, and perennials that will otherwise take water away from plantings and serve as breeding havens for thrips and grasshoppers.
Check sprinkler heads that may need to have filters cleaned or grass cut away so each head at each station is irrigating to its full radius. Our system is set to run at night, so we test the system during the day to check for problems that would otherwise go unnoticed until the problem (dry spots) starts to occur.
Check soaker hoses for needed mending.
Mow only when blades are at a full 5 inches and cut to 3 inches to allow the grass blades to shade the roots. Mowing too often and too short causes excessive drying and promotes weed growth.
Fertilize the lawn with fertilizer that contains iron, not herbicide (weed and feed product).
Schedule watering using Excel so each of my 12 gardens on soaker hoses receives water once a week.
Water the lawn, setting the programmable system to run, for 2-30 minute cycles, twice a week, starting at 10:PM.
Look for iron deficiency on plants in the landscape.
The pH of our well water is 7.9, the same level as the water delivered to homes and landscapes in Spring Creek. Looking at the chart, we can see that the availability of iron decreases at that level and needs to be supplemented using a chelated form of iron such as 'Ironite' or through a hose-end application using a water-soluble form of iron chelate. Chlorosis yellowing is reversable and the application of chelated iron takes affect quickly. Lawns, evergreens, shrubs, container gardens, and other plants benefit from an application.
Deadhead spent bloom stems to keep plants looking their best. The early summer heat has sped bloom times and even plants that usually require little deadheading (like vegetatively propagated petunias) are showing heat stress and will benefit from this chore. We will be trimming back many petunia stems by a full 1/3 to promote bloom formation nearer the center.
Fertilize. High temperatures have necessitated increased watering and is flushing fertilizer through the roots more quickly.
Keep planting. Early morning and evening hours are comfortable and there's still a good selection of plants to choose from.