10 Tips to Make Your Garden Shine This Summer

10 Tips to Make Your Garden Shine This Summer

With summer right around the corner, lots of homeowners are gearing up to get their yards and gardens spruced up and ready for backyard parties, family barbeques, and more. Here are 10 helpful tips you can follow to make your home’s landscaping look the best it ever has this season!

1. Use Weed Fabric Strategically

Weed fabric, also known as landscape fabric, is a valuable tool in maintaining a clean and weed-free garden. When used strategically, it can save time and effort in the long run. One of the most effective ways to use weed fabric is under gravel or mulch walkways. By placing the fabric underneath these materials, you can prevent them from sinking into the soil and creating a mess.

However, it is important to skip using weed barrier fabric in planted areas. While it may provide a short-term sense of accomplishment by preventing weeds from sprouting initially, it ultimately hinders the growth of your plants and can lead to issues with drainage

2. Use Starter Fertilizer

When it comes to planting anything in your garden or yard, one of the best things you can do is use a starter fertilizer. These products can provide a tremendous boost to new plantings, helping them establish strong roots and grow quickly. The key to a good starter fertilizer is finding one with low nitrogen, and most importantly mycorrhizae - beneficial fungi that greatly increase the soil area from which plant roots draw their sustenance.

By using a good starter fertilizer, you are essentially providing an insurance policy for your plants. This extra boost of nutrients and beneficial fungi can help ensure that your plants have everything they need to thrive and grow successfully.

3.  Buying Good Quailty Garden Tools

Investing in high-quality garden tools is a long-term investment in your gardening journey. Quality tools are designed to withstand repeated use, resist wear and tear, and provide the precision needed for delicate tasks. Moreover, quality tools often require less maintenance, saving you time and money in the long run.Soil preparation tools like rakes and spades help loosen and aerate the soil, promoting better root development and nutrient absorption.  Cheap tools are likely to break in the middle of the first job. Save money and time by buying good quality at value prices.

4. Test Your Soil

 It is essential to know the fertility requirements of your soil in order to ensure optimal growth for your plants. Guessing on these requirements can lead to costly mistakes, as you may end up over or under fertilizing, which can harm your plants and waste valuable resources.

To avoid these pitfalls, it is recommended that you get your lawn and garden soil tested by your state's university extension service. These tests will provide you with valuable information about the current conditions of your soil and what needs to be applied for the specific type of plants you are growing. By following these recommendations, you can save time, money, and effort in maintaining a beautiful and thriving outdoor space.

5. Work from a plan

 It is important to work in phases to ensure that the project stays within budget and allows for maximum impact. By focusing on small projects that are part of the big picture, you can gradually transform your landscape. 

Once one project is complete, it is important to move on to the next phase to keep the momentum going. This approach not only helps in managing costs but also allows for adjustments and improvements along the way. Whether it's adding new plants, installing hardscaping elements, or creating outdoor living spaces, tackling one project at a time ensures that each aspect of your landscape receives the attention it deserves.

 6. Minimize steep slopes.

Slopes can be difficult to work with due to the risk of erosion and runoff. To prevent erosion on slopes, it is crucial to install plantings with deeper root zones. Native ground covers and shrubs are excellent choices as they provide stabilization and help prevent soil erosion. These plants have strong root systems that anchor the soil in place, reducing the risk of runoff during heavy rainfall.

7. Group similar plants together for irrigation.

By grouping vegetation with similar watering needs into specific hydrozones, water use can be reduced while simultaneously protecting plants from both underwatering and overwatering.

For instance, separating turf areas from shrub areas is crucial due to their differing water requirements. Turf grass typically requires more frequent watering compared to shrubs, which prefer less frequent but deeper watering. By creating separate hydrozones for these two types of vegetation, you can tailor your watering schedule to meet each zone's specific needs.

8. Recognize site conditions and plant appropriately.

One important aspect to take into account is the different areas of a site and how they may vary in soil type, exposure to sun and wind, evaporation rates, and moisture levels.

Placing plants in an area that does not suit their preferences can have a negative impact on their ability to thrive. For example, placing shade-loving plants in an area with full sun can cause them to wither and die. It is crucial to be mindful of a site's exposure to the elements and choose plants that will thrive in those specific conditions.

9. Keep up with the weeding.

Weeds can compete with your desired plants for water and nutrients, hindering their growth. Thatch buildup can prevent water from reaching the roots of your plants, leading to dehydration and potential damage.

10. Minimize or eliminate fertilizer.

One common mistake that many homeowners make is overusing fertilizer, which can actually harm the environment rather than help it.

Releasing fertilizer encourages thirsty new growth, leading to a higher demand for water. This not only wastes precious resources but also increases the risk of nutrient run-off into our waterways, it is recommended to minimize or eliminate the use of fertilizer whenever possible. If fertilizer is necessary, opt for products that contain "natural organic" or "slow-release" ingredients.

By choosing these types of fertilizers, you can promote healthier plants with strong root systems and reduce the risk of excessive top growth.

By Frances Navarra, Intern

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