Preparing for your summer garden
By Rinda West
RindaWest Landscape Designs
Now is a great time to be thinking seriously about this summer’s garden! Once the weather warms up enough to spend time outside, here are some garden do’s and don’ts:
- Cut back last year’s perennial flowers and grasses now if you didn’t do it in the fall. It’s smart to cut them back before they start growing again so you don’t damage new tissue.
- Get a compost bin if you don’t have one and start making the best soil for your garden! Garden waste (except never put diseased cuttings in compost), food scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells – everything from the kitchen except NO animal products and no fats. Add some torn up newspaper to balance the great nitrogen your food scraps provide with the carbon from the paper.
- Prune only trees and shrubs that bloom later in the summer. Plants that bloom in the spring won’t flower if you prune them now. You can find out when to prune by Googling the plant name. If you don’t know what the plant is, take a photo and send me and email; I’ll try to identify it that way.
- Some woody plants can be cut to the ground now because they bloom on new growth. For example, you can cut back your early-summer flowering Hydrangeas (the ones with the giant balls of flower) because they bloom on new growth. But the later-flowering Hydrangeas (it’s a different species) bloom on old growth, so don’t cut them back now. I’m sorry if this is confusing; again, if you can describe the plant to me I may be able to help. Generally, the ones not to cut back are the taller ones.
- Enjoy your spring flowering bulbs as they come up. Don’t cut them back until the foliage dies down. After they bloom, the leaves are photosynthesizing food for next year’s blooms. Give them some supplemental water and maybe even some organic fertilizer as they start to bloom.
- I am generally very cautious about any pesticides and herbicides – weed and bug killers – because they are toxic to people and pets. Please consider organic fertilizers and hand weeding. They incidence of cancer is high in groundskeepers, especially at golf courses, where they deal in all those chemicals. If you have children and pets, in particular, be cautious.
- You can spruce everything up with a container of colorful spring annuals. Make sure to get plants that can take some frost; you will most likely need to switch them out in June when the weather starts getting hot again.
If you’re looking to improve, remodel, or restructure your garden and want some professional help, I’d love to work with you. Contact me by email and rinda.west @gmail.com or by phone at 773-575-1205. And please visit my website at www.rindawestdesigns.com.