THE LAZY DAYS OF SUMMER

Here we are in Central Texas in August with consistent 100+ degree days and little to no rain. That’s enough to drive a gardener crazy! The only way to do any garden maintenance is in early morning or late evening, which tends to conflicts with other daily activities and commitments. By 10 a.m. , it is way too hot to be working outdoors until at least 7 p.m. It’s survival mode for both plants and gardener!

As depressing as that scenario may be, it’s a fact of life for Texas gardeners. All we can do is just the following.

  1. Survey the garden and yard daily for distressed plants and take appropriate action, be it watering or reducing exposure to light and heat intensity.
  2. Water plants in early morning or late evening at least twice a week , keeping in mind that container plants dry our much faster and may need more frequent watering.
  3. Avoid the desire to do any additional plantings or transplanting until cooler temperatures and more consistent rain occurs in fall.
  4. Use these stressful periods as a learning period, noting which plants survive and are the best adaptive to these severe conditions.
  5. 5  Be planning for garden modifications and improvements in fall to implement a more heat and drought tolerant garden for next year.
  6. Make sure that if you are away for more than 2 days, someone will be checking on and caring for your plants.
  7. Avoid fertilizing or pruning to induce new growth that will be stressed during periods of extreme heat.   It is never inappropriate to add compost and mulching to any plant bed during summer. Anything that will improve moisture retention is a plus.
  8. Xeriscape, xeriscape, xeriscape! Plan and implement an environmental friendly, water-wise landscape this fall, so next year, your yard will sustain itself during these harsh periods with minimal water and maintenance.
  9. Take care of the gardener. Don’t expose yourself to sunburn, heat exhaustion, and dehydration, as your garden depends on you ultimately. We suffer some plant losses during winter and some during summer, but your garden can’t afford to lose the gardener.
  10. Continue to educate yourself during the time in air conditioned comfort.There is so much to learn about gardening, so this down time provides that time to study and learn more about how to be a successful gardener and new plants to try.
  11. In summer, flowering plants tend to go on hiatus until fall, so substitute the color of flower blooms by using plants with colorful foliage. Tropical plants for summer seasonal use can take the heat and brighten up your summer garden.
  12.  If in our challenging climatic conditions, you can’t maintain what you’ve created, cut back and reduce. It is better to have a good looking smaller garden than a large unkempt one. Choose quality over quantity.

Our total xeriscaped yard continues to change based on lessons learned from these extreme weather conditions and patterns. Every time I think I have achieved a totally durable landscape, I am proven otherwise, so the challenge is to continue to make adjustments that will produce a more sustainable and durable garden in response to seasonal experiences. Will I ever achieve the perfect garden? NEVER!

Central Texas has got to be one of the toughest environments in which to grow an ornamental garden with temperature and rainfall extremes, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going, and you’ve got to be tough to be a Texas gardener. So, as long as there are these challenges, I will always be busy in the garden, weather permitting.   The main challenge in summer is to fight the urge to be in the garden and find ways to keep productively busy indoors when working in the garden is not a sensible option.

So my fellow gardening enthusiasts, KEEP COOL, and just do the minimum necessary to sustain your gardens during this stressful period. It’s survival time for both your plants and YOU    .

>Survival of the Fittest

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