Water correctly to keep summer gardens flourishing

Photo by Mark Turnauckas, via Flickr.com; some rights reserved.

June 21 is the official first day of summer, but we are already experiencing summer temperatures! With the higher temperatures comes a need to water your lawn, and garden beds to keep your plants in peak condition.

There are just a few rules about watering, and if you follow them you will be rewarded with more robust healthier plants.

  • Water in the cool of the morning. This practice will save water as less is lost to evaporation. Your plants including your lawn want to be dry when the sun sets. A wet garden at night tends to stay moist all night long and sets up perfect conditions for the onset of a host of diseases including powdery mildew
  • Water deeply. Most plants benefit from one inch of water each week. If you provide this in little sips of water each day you encourage plant roots to stay near the surface of the soil. Shallow rooted plants are less tolerant of drought and less robust overall. It is best to deliver that inch of water in one weekly dose without allowing it to run off. To achieve this, water one area, move to another and cycle around to the start; repeat as often as necessary to achieve the full amount. You can determine when you have reached your goal by using a rain gauge or by placing an empty can or bucket in your yard and using a ruler to measure the depth.
  • Water when it’s needed. Plants don’t follow a time schedule. Purchase a moisture meter from your favorite garden center. They are inexpensive, work well and allow you to test moisture in the root zone of your plants or lawn.

June is the month for Japanese beetles in Bartlett. If you find them in your garden, you can knock them off your plants into a can of water containing several drops of dishwashing detergent, where they will soon perish. I do not recommend traps. While traps will capture many beetles, the traps work by attracting the beetles, so you will be drawing them into your landscape.

If you need some inspiration you can see some great landscapes and glean some gardening ideas in early June at two worthwhile events:

  • June 2, “Through Our Garden Gates,” Featuring five gardens with garden experts, labeled plants in the garden, take-home plant lists for each garden, and demonstrations. Free and open to the public. See the map and directions at memphisareamastergardeners.org.
  • June 9, Mid-South Hydrangea Society’s 14th Annual Bloomin’ in June Plant Sale, Speaker & Garden Tour. See details at midsouthhosta.org.

More garden activities for June

  • Plant: Divide and replant bearded iris. Tomatoes late this month for fall harvest. Choose and plant daylilies when in bloom.
  • Lawn care: Fertilize Zoysia and Bermuda with a complete fertilizer. Mow fescue 3 inches in heat.
  • Fertilize: Late blooming azaleas after they bloom.
  • Prune: Deadhead flowers to encourage rebloom. Pinch back chrysanthemums.
  • Other: Continue to water. Water early in the day, and it is best not to get the foliage wet. Watch for insects and fungal diseases and treat as needed. Mulch and weed as needed.