With frequent dry spells, property owners are increasingly seeking custom landscape services to help them make the switch to xeriscape vegetation. But with summer approaching, more preparations are necessary to protect green lawns and young plants that help to beautify your landscape from the rising heat and pests, and to increase the comfort of your outdoor space as you plan on spending more time outside.
Here are some tips to prepare your outdoor living space for summer:
Provide ample lighting
Increasing your outdoor lighting is necessary to not only promote your safety and that of your guests, but also illuminate the yard from dusk to dawn, especially when entertaining guests. Ensure that all the bulbs are working and that there are no dark spots that could lead to a security breach.
Flip the shed
Put shovels, snowblowers, and skis in storage and bring forward your summer supplies, including hoses, lawn mower, sprinklers, fertilizer, and garden tools. Ensure that you have all the supplies you need, well organized and ready for use.
Adjust your irrigation controller
You don’t want to suffer the embarrassment of being the only house on your block with brown grass. Adjust the watering frequency as needed to keep your yard and plants healthy and save on water. Plants that have partial shade, as well as those that are well established may need less watering compared to others.
Inspect your irrigation system
Check the controller’s battery power backup and replace it if need be. Activate the watering system and check for leaks (soggy ground, standing water, or eroded spots). Also assess the valve operation to ensure they are opening and closing properly with no leaks. Replace missing or damaged sprinkler heads and clear any obstructions that could be blocking the spray.
Choose low maintenance plants
Remember to update any annual plants in your garden, or switch to perennials that don’t require replanting every year. Seek help from landscape experts to identify the best plants for your region. Local nurseries are a great source of information about low maintenance plants that will add beauty to your landscape, as well as warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda or Buffalo grass, that require much less water to retain their green colour.
Prune your garden
Acacias, ironwoods, palo verdes, and other native trees should be pruned in spring, but never in summer. Removing the leafy growth will expose the inner branches and stem to the scorching sun and necessitate more watering. Over-pruning during summer also increases the risk of severe sunscald.
Paint your tree trunks
If you need to prune sun-sensitive trees for access or safety, consider painting their trunks with properly diluted latex paint (1:1 with water). You can use any colour. Keep in mind that any pruning should not remove more than 25 per cent of the canopy in a single growing season, as it increases the risk of sunscald and makes the plants less water efficient.
Mow the lawn less
Set the mower blade higher to cut one-third of the blade of grass at a time. Using a lower setting that cuts more of the grass tends to increase the growth rate to compensate. This will not only stress the plant more, since there is less water available, but also increase the mowing frequency. It is a good idea to let the lawn grow taller in summer to shade the lawn and maintain the healthy look. Fertilize the grass in the morning and water it immediately to avoid burning the plants.
Mulch is beneficial to all plants. Applying a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch on top of the soil will help to insulate it, keeping the roots cooler and more water available in the soil during the dry spells. You can add any type of mulch to your landscape, including organic mulch, such as compost and bark, or inorganic mulch like granite. But since you are applying a thick layer of mulch, leave a small 2- to 3-inch allowance from the plant stem to avoid suffocating the roots.
The best time to spray garden chemicals is before sunrise or after sunset. Applying insecticides any other time when the temperatures are too high can cause some of the chemicals to burn the plants. In some cases, you can successfully manage insects such as aphids and mites using a strong spray of water to knock them off the plant – they can’t climb back on. Alternatively, you can apply a soapy water solution (1 tsp. per gallon of water) using a trigger spray, or some other organic pest control measure.
Are you satisfied with your space?
Lastly, walk the perimeter of your property line, noting anything that might need extra attention before summer. Seeking professional custom landscape services can help address most of these concerns. You may need awnings and pergolas to cover your patio, extra outdoor furniture or upholstery, or even an outdoor bar.