Perennials: Many plants require an inch of water per week to grow well. If this inch is not provided by rainfall, you can make up the difference. A simple range gauge can provide an estimate of rainfall, and drip irrigation or soaker hoses are an effective way to deliver water directly to the plants’ root zone. To test how long it takes for the desired amount water to be delivered, place a straight sided container (such as a tuna can) under the water source and record the time it takes to collect an inch of water. Adjust watering time to supplement rainfall weekly.
Flowers: Check supports for flowering vines. Vines can become heavy this time of year, and in need of extra stability.
Fruits and Vegetables: Raspberry canes that have finished fruiting should be pruned to the ground. Keep up with the harvest in the vegetable garden. Beans and summer squash will stop producing if seeds begin to mature. If you plan to be away, invite a friend, relative or neighbor to care for your garden and pick your crops for their own use, or donate to a food pantry.
Trees and Shrubs: To propagate plants cheaply, now’s the time to take softwood cuttings of butterfly bush, deciduous azalea, rose-of-Sharon (if you want a particular color, as these seed prolifically), and other shrubs not easily propagated by division.
Lawns: If you suspend irrigation to conserve water, the lawn may look a little brown in periods of low rainfall. The lawn will go dormant; not die. Keep ahead of emerging weeds and the grass will green up again after several good rainy days.
Houseplants: Typically, it’s too hot to do any transplanting, but houseplants are the exception. If plants are bursting at the seams, find a cooler shady spot to work and move them to a pot no more than 2 inches larger in diameter than the original (plants don’t like it too roomy). Water them well and give them extra protection from stressful conditions while they settle in.
General. Birds need water, especially during summer’s dog days. Consider featuring a birdbath in one of the garden beds. DIY versions can be made cheaply with clay pots and a big saucer. Browse online for inspiration.
Last updated July 31, 2022