The Plant Man column
for publication the week of 06/20/04 - 06/26/04
The Plant Man
by Steve Jones
"Super seven" list of summer garden jobs
It's official: Summer is finally here as of June 21! And all that
talk about "the lazy, hazy days" might make us think there's nothing
to do around the landscape, except maybe pull a comfortable wicker
chair under a favorite shade tree and "think with your eyes closed"
for an hour or so.
Not so fast, Rip Van Winkle!
There's still plenty to keep you occupied outdoors, so take a look at
my "Summer Super Seven" checklist of essential activities, then put on
your gloves and knee-pads and get busy!
1. Water the plants and lawn. If you're still "enjoying" those late
spring / early summer downpours, you can ignore this one – for now.
But remember that most plants need the equivalent of around one inch
of rain water every week. Best time to water: early morning, because
evening watering can leave plants damp during the night and that can
lead to fungus.
2. Check your mower blades. Has your lawn developed a greyish-brown
appearance in places? If the usual suspects – too little rain or too
many dogs – are not too blame, it could be that your mower blades have
become dull or maladjusted over the winter layoff. That means your
blades are shredding and mashing the grass rather than neatly slicing
it. Get the blades sharpened or readjusted if necessary. (Now don't
you wish you'd done that during the winter?)
3. Eliminate standing / stagnant water. Get rid of all your mosquito
mini-farms! Buckets, trash can lids and tarps collect water and
become larvae incubators. If you missed a complete column of
anti-skeeter tips, you can find it at my web site. Go to
www.landsteward.org then click on "The Plant Man" heading and scroll
down to the mosquito column. It could save you scratching all summer!
4. Protect your new young trees. Did you plant some new trees this
spring? Because they are at their most vulnerable during the first
two years of life, it's a good idea to protect your investment from
rodents, deer, severe weather and high winds. There are several
excellent products on the market, including one called Miracle Tubes
that simply encircle the delicate trunks and provide support and
5. Protect tall flowers. A single gust of wind can turn an entire bed
of tall flowers into a tangle of "dead soldiers" and that can be a
very depressing sight! From an aesthetic point of view, choose
inconspicuous stakes and green twist-ties. But be sure not to strangle
your flowers by over-tightening!
6. Store pesticides safely. If you're using any pesticides on your
landscape, remember that they can be dangerous, particularly to
children and pets. Always read the directions (even when you think
you know everything about the product) and think carefully about where
to store leftover pesticides... safely out of the reach of small hands
7. Make birds welcome. Be sure you have a fresh water source (not a
stagnant skeeter spa) that will attract birds to your garden... where
they will feast on the insects that are feasting on your plants. Many
people keep bird feeders stocked year-round for the same reason.
You've done everything on my Summer Super Seven list? You deserve a
reward. Drag a wicker chair under your favorite shade tree and relax!
Just room for one reader question...
QUESTION: "I am hoping that you can help me with my 6ft wisteria
plants. They were budded out for blooming and got frost bitten. I
pinched a bud and they are hard as well as the branches. Is it
possible to save these plants for next year growth and if so how do I
prune now for promoted growth?" Bonnie
ANSWER: Just trim the burnt growth and new growth should begin.
Fertilize as in the past. Next winter when the leaves fall, mix one
tablespoon of Epson salts per gallon of water and drench the roots of
your plant. Repeat the same treatment the next spring just before it
starts to put on leaves. You should have blooms again this next
The Plant Man is here to help. Send you questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to firstname.lastname@example.org and for resources and
additional information, including archived Plant Man columns, visit
www.landsteward.org where you can also subscribe to Steve's free