No-sweat ideas for dog-day gardening

It's August. It's hot and dry, or it's hot and humid. But pretty much everywhere... it's hot. And that means, for most of us, it's not much fun being outdoors.
Fortunately, the "must do" list for garden and landscape lovers is mercifully short. But that doesn't mean you can let it slide!
Let's take a look at my "dog days must do" list that will keep your landscape looking good until those cooler days return.
Start early! Don't put it off. It's tempting to pour another cup of coffee and look out at the great outdoors from your air-conditioned nest. But leave it too late and when you DO step outside, the heat hits you smack in the face and you retreat back inside.
Work in short bursts Get out there before the sun gets up too high and take care of one or two landscape chores, even if you only spend fifteen or twenty minutes doing it. You can always go back out again tomorrow morning.
Weed and weed again Leave weeds alone too long and they get a real grip on your landscape, sucking up moisture and nutrients that should be going to your plants. Don't try to weed every square inch in one go! Working in short bursts, thoroughly weed one area this morning, then tomorrow you can pick up where you left off.
As much as possible, try to pull the weeds before they have a chance to flower and go to seed again. If you need an incentive, remind yourself that every seed will turn into a new weed if you don't get it now!
Water the lawn... or not As I've said many times before, for best results water deeply about once a week rather than lightly and more frequently. And set the mower blades to around three inches so that the slightly taller grass shades the soil and allows the moisture to linger longer.
But if your lawn should turn brown, or if your municipality imposes water restrictions, don't sweat it. For the most part, a brown lawn is dormant and will resume its more attractive green hue when the fall rain returns.
Trees and shrubs Take a look at your trees and remove any dead branches. If you have any summer flowering shrubs that are beginning to look unkempt, you can prune them back to a better shape as soon as they've finished flowering.
Perennials Pick the dead flowers off your perennials. You can do this as you're weeding around them if you wish, taking care of two chores at once. Deadheading not only makes your garden look fresher and brighter, they will also continue to flower longer because they will not go into their seed-producing phase just yet.
Look! Up in the sky... It's a hanging basket! Sometimes, when we're concentrating on plants at ground level, we can forget to check on those hanging baskets. Reach up and push your finger deep down into the soil. You're checking to see if there is enough moisture down at the root level, not just on the surface. If it doesn't feel moist, water them thoroughly, but be careful not to over water to avoid rotting the roots.
While you're at it, do the same thing with any container plants out there on your porch or patio. Again, the best time to water is early in the morning.
Bath time for birdies If you have a bird bath, be sure that it has fresh water and isn't getting green and slimy. Apart from being an unhealthy environment for the birds, stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. At the same time, make sure that tarps and wheelbarrows haven't collected storm water creating a mini mosquito farm. Can you say West Nile Virus? I thought you could!
Remember, don't be a hero! You won't win a medal for working outside in the broiling sun until you drop. Go out early. Take a bottle of water with you. Work in short bursts. Don't try to get everything done in one session.
Now go back inside and enjoy your air conditioning as you survey your landscape with a sense of real accomplishment. And remember the words of Scarlett O'Hara: "Tomorrow is another day!"
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to snipped-for-privacy@landsteward.org and for resources and additional information, including archived columns, visit www.landsteward.org
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snipped-for-privacy@Greenwoodnursery.com wrote:

Andy writes:
Forget all that stuff. Just dump a tray of ice cubes in your undershorts and then go out and hoe.......
Andy in Eureka, Texas
( If your son's goal in life is to "get married and have a truck with really big tires ". you might live in Eureka, Texas )
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Or wade into the pond and work on cleaning out the crude at the bottom or rearrange the plants.My favorite thing to do in this heat other than swing in the hammock with the fan blowing on me and a tall cool drink in my hand! Elaine in Ga Zone 7b
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I remember one particularly hot summer, maybe a year after we had our first child. My toddler was so cranky that I put him in a huge salad bowl of water with some ice cubes in it. Our boy was so happy it was unreal, but his diaper was enormous from all the water. So yes..icecubes can do magic ;-)
Elaine wrote:

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Sounds cool!! Ice cubes in the diapers lol!
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