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Family barbeques, backyard badminton and peaceful hammock naps: that is what the summer garden is all about! This is the time of year when our gardens are in full swing-and in full use! Get outside as much as possible this month, soaking up the sun and enjoying the beauty and vitality of your garden. This month, we discuss the best shade trees for your yard. We also look into proper watering techniques and adding running water (in the form of a fountain) to your garden! Keep reading for these and even more summer gardening advice.
Sun-loving Shade Trees
Many of us grow shade trees to beautify the landscape and provide habitat for birds. These shade trees also decrease the cost of cooling our homes while reducing the amount of heat reflected from paved areas. And don’t forget the all-important job of converting carbon dioxide to oxygen. Trees do all this while sitting there and looking pretty! Our favorite shade trees, like Red Maples (Acer rubrum), provide a ‘welcome home’ feeling, when you arrive at your house. The stature, vigor, and potential for long life provide a sense of stability, as living memorials for the people who planted and nurtured them.
As they cool our homes, they benefit from the sunlight beaming down on them. Shade trees, like the Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea), raise their many leaves to the sun to photosynthesize, providing much-needed energy to all parts of the tree, right down to the roots. They absorb the sunlight so that you, and some of your sensitive plants, don’t have to. Park a picnic table under its expansive branches or plant a shade garden full of ferns, hostas and hydrangea.
When choosing a shade tree, consider the growing conditions your garden provides: soil drainage, soil type, available sunlight and space, existing plants and trees, and all above and below-ground utilities. Choose a shade tree that will perform well in our cool climate, like the Katsura Tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum). Select one that fits into the space available; the right tree in the right place will prevent root issues that impose on sidewalks, driveways, foundations, and septic systems.
Find the right tree for your yard and watch it grow and spread over the years. Enjoy its beauty, definition and even its fall color! And every summer, enjoy that welcome shade.
Summer Watering Tips
Summer is in full swing and gardeners must remain vigilant in saving plants against the dryness and heat. Many plants are sensitive to the hot summer days, which are in such a stark contrast to the damp coolness we usually experience. Come down to Furney’s to check out our selection of watering tools, including hoses and their many attachments, watering cans (for delicate plants and small gardens), soaker hoses, irrigation attachments and more! Here are a few tips for watering the garden to conserve water and benefit your garden:
- Water deeply in the morning: give plants a heavy soak before the heat of the day, to prevent evaporation. By watering plants for a longer time, less frequently, we conserve water and encourage plants to grow deeper roots. You can do this by hand or with a soaker hose and even a timer!
- For a predominantly sunny yard, plant only full-sun plants. Herbs, annual flowers and some vegetables, like tomatoes, all do well with lots of sunshine. Save the sensitive plants (like ferns) for the shady spots.
- Plant sun-tolerant trees (see article above) to create shade and lower the overall temperature of your garden.
- Use shade cover to drape over your plants or buy or build a shade house to fit over them. You can even stake an umbrella over plants that might burn easily.
- Add Soil Moist Granules to the soil around your plants. This amazing water-grabbing polymer helps to conserve water in the soil! The tiny crystals soften and absorb water, when added. Then, they slowly release the water over time, giving plants a continuous supply! Learn more at www.soilmoist.com.
Pruning Flowering Evergreens
While most deciduous plants are pruned in early spring, flowering, broadleaf evergreens (like rhododendrons and camellias) should not be pruned until early to mid-summer. This allows for new growth and strengthening before the winter months! It is best to prune now: don’t wait too long or the new growth that comes after the pruning will be prone to damage by the cold. Newly-pruned trees and shrubs are in a slightly fragile state so take care to prune sooner, rather than later. July is the perfect time.
To prune a flowering broadleaf, like azaleas, wait until after blooming then cut off the dead flower heads and the rosettes of leaves just behind them. This allows for new growth, while making the plant immediately more attractive. Brighten up your yard while keeping your plants healthy: it’s a win-win! Older plants may need more branches and deadwood removed to keep them healthy and well-shaped. Use pruning shears or loppers, depending on how thick the branches are. You can find both tools, and more, at the nursery.
Just remember: don’t wait too long! New growth stimulated too late in the season can leave a tree susceptible to disease and damage. Prune in July (August is too late!) so they can have one last push of new growth and can set out new buds before the winter. This sets your plants up for a bright future!
Integrate a Fountain!
What better way to further enjoy your summer garden than to add the sight and sound of continuous running water? Furney’s has a wide selection of beautiful outdoor fountains that bubble, babble and burble day and night, creating an even deeper sense of beauty and connection to the natural world. Choose from our many shapes and styles, from a classic upright shape to fountains with depicting animals, children and intricate design work. Adding a fountain to the garden means adding more tranquility, more splendor and more harmony to your life.
A Trio of Color: Summer Flora
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Painted Daisy (Tanacetum coccineum) and Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea): three common perennial flowers that look amazing together in the summer sun. They have some similarities in shape and form but their contrasting colors create a visual delight! All are tall, stately plants, producing several blossoms per plant. All three bloom right straight through to the end of summer, especially if they are deadheaded (remove spent blossoms, before they go to seed).
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta): The yellow daisy-like flower pictured above boasts stately, flat yellow petals and a deep brown-black center (hence the name). They self-seed readily and will come back with vigor, year after year. Plant this beauty if full sun and it will thrive in just about any soil!
Painted Daisy (Tanacetum coccineum): This sunny, easy perennial will fill your garden with color! Blooming in a wide array of colors and patterns, the Painted Daisy grows up to 36 inches tall, with feathery fern-like foliage. These plants love sunshine and will tolerate most soils, making them an easy choice to spread around the garden!
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea): Contrasting with the yellows, oranges and reds of the Black-eyed Susans and Painted Daisies is the Purple Coneflower. Long-lasting purple to lavender petals grow downward to show off the eye-catching center of this perennial flower. When the last of the petals have fallen, Coneflower produces attractive dark seedheads that the birds just love. These will thrive in a hot, dry spot and will bloom all summer long.
Plant all three, together in a sunny location, for great summer color that returns to the garden year after year! Come down to Furney’s and pick up a few of each to perk up your summer garden!