Expert Summer Gardening Tips

Jon Culver of Sweet Peas Garden Shop in Homewood offers his expert advice on creating a beat-the-heat summer garden that will look beautiful all season long.

This Shade combo includes caladiums maidenhair fern blue torenia bounce impatiens babywing begonia white creeping Jenny and Josephs coat


Prepare the soil by tilling or loosening existing soil and adding organic material such as compost, top soil, soil conditioner or mushroom compost. This will allow the roots to spread deeper and wider, allowing plants to stay better hydrated and anchored.

Dig hole for each plant about half the depth, but twice the width of the root ball. Mound the soil up to the top of the root ball, almost creating a mound with the plant at the top. This will allow water to shed off of the root ball which will keep the root system from rotting.

Loosen the root system of the plant by pulling roots loose or “scoring” roots with a knife to allow the roots to enter new soil.

Stagger plants forming a triangular pattern, keeping tall plants to the back and low growing plants to the front of the bed and don’t line plants up in soldier fashion! This will give your garden a much more natural look.

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Watering & Fertilization

Watering in the morning hours is always best. Water for longer periods of times fewer times a week, rather than watering a little each day. This will allow water to get deeper into the soil and attract the roots to grow deeper.

Plant with a time release fertilizer, such as Osmocote as a supplement throughout the season with a liquid food.

Mulch the garden lightly to help hold in moisture and help keep weeds at bay. Be careful not to let the mulch mound atop the stems of the plants.

This Sun planter combo includes lilac pentas white salvia blue my mind evolvulus yellow mecardonia lavender lantana and pink catharanthus

Choosing Plants

Make sure to choose plants appropriate for your conditions. Watch the sun so you know how many hours a day the area is getting sun. Is it morning sun? Hot afternoon sun? Shade? Investigate plants to see if they will perform all summer or if they are more of a spring blooming variety.  

Mix perennials (plants that come back every year) and annuals (plants that bloom the season, but need replacing). This will give you color all season and give you plants that don’t need to be replaced.

Pay attention to the maximum heights of the plant, as well as the appropriate spacing so you don’t crowd the garden.

Enjoy your Garden

After you’ve put in the work, it’s finally time to enjoy your garden!

Tend the area by “deadheading” (cropping off old spent blooms to keep new ones coming). Replace old spent plants with new ones as needed.

View your garden at different times during the day to make sure the plants aren’t getting too much or too little sun.

Move things around as they grow and change, if necessary. 

Water and fertilize throughout the growing season.

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Catherine Romero

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