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7 TIPS for success in your summer garden

by Ellen Zagory, Director of Public Horticulture for the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden

person mulching  

1. Mulch, mulch, mulch. Add a thick layer of wood chips or other organic material to insulate the soil, reduce water loss through evaporation, keep roots cooler, suppress weeds, and reduce soil compaction.

weeds on the ground

2. Eliminate weeds before they have a chance to go to seed. “One year of seeds, seven years of weeds,” says Superintendent Emeritus of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden Warren Roberts.

poppies and deergrass next to a trail

3. Deadhead perennials to extend bloom. When your catmint, Santa Barbara daisies, asters, and other perennials stop blooming and start going to seed, shear them back and apply a shot of water. Usually this will result in renewed bloom. This also works on California poppies.


4. Plan to add summer-dormant bulbs in fall. This will add seasonal color without increasing your water use.

woman tending to plants

5. Consider replacing the thirstiest plants with water-saving varieties this fall. Plan to plant in fall to take advantage of fall and winter rains and cooler temperatures to help plants get established.

drip irrigation

6. Save water. Maintain and repair your irrigation system, eliminating any leaks or overspray. Look into converting to low-flow heads or drip irrigation. Irrigate in the evening and early morning to prevent water loss to evaporation. Irrigate deeply and less frequently. Watering your lawn less frequently will slow its growth and reduce the need for mowing.

large tree

7. Remember to water shade trees even if you stop watering your lawn. Lawns can rebound once more water is available, but trees can be affected by temporary water stress for years to come.

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