5 Essential Tips From Greensboro Landscape Architect Ensure Your Landscape Thrives During The Dog Days Of Summer

Posted on | June 21, 2016 | No Comments

It’s summer – time once again to linger in outdoor living spaces at the end of a long day, unwinding and perhaps sipping a favorite beverage. We’d all like to have a beautiful view to enjoy as we relax outdoors, but the North Carolina summer heat can be harsh on our landscapes. Fortunately, as Lori Hawkins, owner of Greensboro’s Hawkins Landscape Architecture tells us, proper maintenance goes a long way toward keep our prized plants healthy and beautiful all summer. Lori has cultivated a great passion for and knowledge of plants for decades, and she was gracious enough to share her best summer landscaping tips with North Carolina Design.

Images Courtesy of Hawkins Landscape Architecture ©

Water Wisely

In summer months, Lori stresses that keeping lawns and plants healthy is mainly about keeping them adequately watered. “Container plants should be watered every day,” she advises. “Recently planted trees and shrubs should be watered every other day. Lawns should be watered every other day as well. To avoid evaporation, you should water in early morning or in the evening, after the heat of day has leveled off.”

Lori cautions homeowners that, while water is essential, it’s important not to overdo it “You have to be careful not to over water,” she says. “Too much water can be as devastating to plants as too little water. I highly recommend using an irrigation system, and outfitting it with a water sensor. The sensor ‘reads’ the amount of water present in the soil and the air, and lets you know when plants actually need water. It’s a highly effective watering solution.”

Mitigate Moisture Loss

It’s not enough to give plants water – you have to ensure that they retain as much moisture as possible. “Mulching is very important during hot summer months,” says Lori. “I like to use shredded hardwood – it retains moisture better than wood chips, and it doesn’t dry out like pine straw. To help container gardens retain moisture, move them to a shady spot in the afternoon, and use potting soil with moisture retaining additives.”

Plant Thoughtfully

Many people believe that planting in summer is a no-no. Not so, according to Lori, so long as you are very committed to giving them extra care. “Summer is particularly hard on new plantings,” she notes. “They will really struggle without diligent watering and attention. If you’re planning an extended trip, or you’re very busy this summer, either install an irrigation system, have someone you trust care for your plants, or wait until fall to plant new items.”

Mow Judiciously

We all like to keep our lawns tidy, but Lori advises against overzealous mowing. “Cutting your grass too short can expose it to too much heat, causing stress,” she tells us. “My rule of thumb is to set the mower blade on the highest setting, and take off no more than one-third of the average height of the grass. If you have a mulching mower, you should leave very fine lawn clippings in the grass, as it will enrich the soil and help preserve moisture.”

Give Plants Their Best Chance

“Weeding plant beds is very important, as weeds steal nutrients from desirable plants, notes Lori. “Deadheading perennials and annuals keeps them from going to seed and redirects the plant’s energy toward growth and creating new blossoms. And pruning can be beneficial to some plants and trees during summer – just make sure that you provide extra water to mitigate stress, and that you research the best time to prune any specific plant carefully to avoid cutting off buds or adding undue stress.

“One of the most important things you can do to promote the health of your landscape is to plan it out thoughtfully. When you have the right plants in the right spots, with the right soil and the right amount of sunlight, they’ll do well even under less-than-ideal conditions. I highly recommend hiring a landscaping expert or consulting with a nursery to create a plan. It really is the best way to set yourself up for success, in any season.”

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