Make the most of your summer garden

Our season is short, so make the most of outdoor living by building a gorgeous summer garden fast with these easy (and low maintenance) ideas!

Prep your gardens

Preparing your beds before planting is critical and the great news is that it doesn’t involve a lot of digging or hard work. Use a broad fork to loosen the soil, then use a garden fork to lightly work in compost and fertilizer (lightly turn the fertilizer into the top 6 inches of the bed). You want to avoid disturbing your soil too much (and all of the micro-organisms that live in it!) so don’t dig up your beds, turn the soil or use a rototiller – all are unnecessary for the health of your beds.

Don’t plant in rows

Did you know that this method was originally developed for the commercial farmer in mind to get machinery into the fields and support harvesting? The same can’t be said for us and our own beds, so plant in an offset grid. I like to think of my bed as a checkerboard and plant only in the black squares. The benefit to this approach is that you will increase your yield and the plants will cover an entire bed, preventing nasty weeds and reducing water evaporation. All good things!

Choose your garden site strategically

Depending on what you want to grow, remember that most summer crops require maximum sun (6 to 8 hours), especially if you plan on growing tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. You also want a site that’s close to your home so you can easily keep an eye on it to watch it grow and progress.

Put Out Plant Supports

Installing cucumber trellises, peony rings, stakes for delphiniums, and other supports now will be much easier than waiting until the plants have grown too high. Make sure your supports are sturdy and apply a fresh coat of paint to wooden trellises if needed.

Spring clean for a better summer

Trim back your perennial plants that are done blooming to clean up dead flower spikes and remove seed pods. This will help to keep the perennial garden looking its best, and make the flowers that are currently in bloom really stand out. Deadhead annual flowers to give the plants a boost and encourage more blooms. Simply pinch off any faded flowers and seed pods from the plants, and soon they will be covered with flowers again.

Feed annuals and container plantings with a foliar fertilizer to boost summer blooming power. Kelp and seaweed fertilizers or fish emulsion products supply nutrients to your plants both through their foliage and their roots. Continue to feed every two weeks through late summer to keep the blooms coming.

Stimulate your senses with sound

Nothing beats the tranquil sounds of a water feature in a summer garden, and it doesn’t need to be grandiose or extremely expensive. A self-contained fountain powered by a small electric pump can bring those same soothing sounds with less price and maintenance. What I love about a fountain is that it tends to attract local wildlife to your backyard to drink, preen and bathe.

I absolutely love bamboo and, when the wind hits, it can create this lovely wooden rustle. Choose a clump-forming variety (so it doesn’t spread through your garden like wildfire, which it tends to do!) and welcome the soft sounds it emits. Wind chimes are also instantly gratifying and you can easily hang them anywhere in your space.

Create warm light

Outdoor living is enhanced ten-fold with lighting. String fairy lights across your patio or greenery to give a soft, welcoming glow for those warm evenings spent outside. Choose bulbs that are low-light and warm so it doesn’t feel too glaring.