July is here and it can be one of the busiest times of the year when it
comes to your landscape. If your outdoor "to do" list isn't quite
full, here a few ideas to keep you busy...
Number one on your list: Watch out for your own health and well-being
while you're working outside at this time of year! The best time to
be outside tending to your assorted flora is early in the morning. If
that's impossible, avoid the temptation to be out in the midday sun
and wait until the cool of the evening. Take a bottle of water with you
and keep hydrated!
While we're talking about water, remember to keep your lawn lush
using your sprinkler, particularly when Nature isn't providing
sufficient rainfall. You can find some previous columns on the subject
of summer lawn care archived at my Web site. Simply go to
www.landsteward.org and scroll through the columns under The Plant Man
Remember that lawns do better when they receive a thorough but
infrequent soaking rather frequent shallow soakings. Why? Shallow
watering encourages the formation of thatch and lawn weeds.
Another lawn tip: For best results, don't mow wet grass! Wait until
your lawn is dry before firing up the mower. Do it the way
professional landscapers and mow in alternate directions each time. Did
you mow north-south last time? This time switch to an east-west pattern
and you'll have a smoother, more velvety lawn.
When it comes to watering shrubs, forget the sprinkler and get out the
soaker hose. The main benefit of the soaker hose is that the water can
gently ooze out and gently permeate the soil rather than simply running
off. Additionally, a soaker hose averts the risk of disturbing the
soil around delicate plants which can be the case with more
high-pressure watering methods.
In a week or so, some of your annuals might be displaying that
"leggy" look that might fine for runway models but isn't so
attractive for plants. If your petunias are looking leggy, but you
don't want to lose too many flowers all at once, try this: prune back
one long stem each week. Trim back to a set of leaves or a node and
you'll encourage new growth from that point. The result? A more
bushy, eye-pleasing look.
Did you plant a container herb garden the way I urged you to do? If
so, this month you'll be stepping out of your kitchen and snipping
fresh herbs to add to your favorite recipes. (If you didn't set up a
container herb garden, make plans NOW to do it next year!)
Right now, the basil should be perfect and that means it's pesto
time! Instead of removing individual leaves, I find it's better to
clip off entire stems and then remove the leaves in the kitchen.
You'll be encouraging a bushier basil plant, putting out more leaves
and fewer flowers. Pesto is that delicious sauce, originating in the
Genoa region of Italy, combining fresh basil with pine nuts, garlic,
olive oil and other tasty ingredients. If you'd like me to send you
a simple pesto recipe that Cheryl and I love to make using our fresh
basil, simply drop an e-mail to email@example.com
Okay, here comes the "W" word: weeding. About once a week, get out
there early in the morning (see rule number one, above) and pull some
of those weeds. If there was a dew or some light rain, the weeds will
slip out more easily from the moist soil at that time of day. And a
weekly "weed control patrol" will keep the green monsters from
ruling your landscape!
Feeling a little weary? Maybe in need of some motivation and
inspiration? Here's an idea: visit a botanical garden or arboretum in
your area. It's a peaceful, relaxing and enjoyable way to spend a few
hours, even for those members of your family who might not share your
enthusiasm for trees, plants and shrubs.
If you need help, a good place to start is at a Web site sponsored by
the National Gardening Association:
http://www.garden.org/public_gardens/ There you'll find a Public
Garden Locator that you can search by city, state, zip code etc. You
can click on a hot link from my Web site if you prefer. Go to
www.landsteward.org and click on the link in this column archived under
the Plant Man column.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send questions about trees, shrubs and
landscaping to firstname.lastname@example.org For resources and additional
information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter, go