Get a Flourishing Summer Garden with These 5 Tips
This is a guest post written By Jennifer Riner of Zillow
If you’re late to the game on spring gardening, no fear. There’s still time to create a beautiful, vivacious garden at home. Given the warmer weather, however, it’s important to take some precautions – which may differ slightly from preparations like weed pulling, which is typically completed in the late winter and early spring. If you have space to work with and want to break out your green thumb, follow these five tips for plentiful planting this summer.
1. Plant in Pots for a Fun Design Container gardening is trending in outdoor design at the moment. For renters with balconies, container gardening is usually the only option. But, even homeowners can use bright colored planters and pots to complement flower beds and lawns. Keep in mind that containers require upkeep. For example, when salt deposits form inside pots, they become difficult to clean. However, you can simply combine one part vinegar with one part alcohol and one part water as a cleaning solution. Fill a spray bottle with the mixture and squirt over affected areas. Use a plastic brush to scrub clean. Wipe or let air dry before filling with dirt for new plants.
2. Use Leftover Food for Nourishment Just like any living thing, plants need to eat. While nutrient-dense soils provide much of the nourishment needed for healthy florae, why not give your garden a little boost? Try using leftover boiled water from vegetables on your potted patio plants, cooled of course. Not only does this help water your plants and conserve fresh resources, the residual vitamins and minerals from your cooked veggies do wonders for garden growth. Additionally, loose tea and coffee grounds can acidify soil, perfect for acid-friendly plants such as camellias, gardenias, blueberries, rhododendrons and azaleas. About once a month, apply a quarter inch thick of either tea or coffee grounds onto your soil. It helps balance out the pH level and keep the aforementioned flowers thriving. Chamomile tea, specifically, fights off fungus and is great either in soil or sprayed directly onto plants.
3. Give Flowers Space to Grow Potted plants are aesthetically interesting and provide some vertical depth to gardens, but certain flowers need ground space to grow properly. Be sure to read the instructions on the back of your seed packets to know which plants grow wide so you can prioritize ground space for those types. If you lack the yard space to plant in the ground, opt for the patio-specific varieties of flowers intended for containers.
4. Be Wary of Pests Many pest-controlling sprays contain chemicals that can damage flowerbeds. They may also kill the insects that help your garden thrive. Instead, fight pests like snails, slugs and aphids with a natural mixture of lemon juice and water in a spray bottle. The nutrients in lemons provide added health benefits for your new plants, too. Don’t forget about larger animals, including squirrels and birds. Place feeders far away from the garden area to distract tiny critters. If you have cats, cover flowers in pine straw with ground cinnamon sprinkled on top to deter their interest.
5. Water Smart If you live in or are moving to a city like Raleigh, you’re probably aware that the weather down south gets pretty hot in the summertime. If you’re an avid gardener and are worried about your plants, don’t just douse them in hose water. A regular garden hose is the least efficient way to water plants. Consider purchasing a soaker hose or sprinkler nozzle for more resourceful watering. Perennials only require one to two inches of water per week, and any more than that can actually cause harm. Further, keep watering confined to the root zone of your plants, which encompasses the few inches around a plant’s canopy. Water in the morning when temperatures are cooler so plants have time to soak it in before the heat evaporates surface liquids. Visit your local garden or hardware store for more information on your specific location and climate, the square footage you have to work with and the best planting options given the time of year.