6 Time-Tested Tips for Keeping Summer Gardens Looking Great

6 Time-Tested Tips for Keeping Summer Gardens Looking Great

Jun 27th 2024

Summertime is many people's favorite season, thanks to longer, warmer days. But did you know your plants also look forward to this time of year? Longer days mean your garden receives more sunlight for photosynthesis, helping your herbs grow faster and healthier.

However, summer also comes with its fair share of challenges. If your region experiences extreme heat and high temperatures, the plant's leaves may wilt due to moisture loss. The summer sun also promotes transpiration in plants, often leading to a loss of turgor pressure and cell death. But don't worry; this blog will share six time-tested tips for keeping a summer garden looking great all season long.

1. Water Wisely

Just like humans, plants need lots of water and a nutrient-rich diet to cope with the summer sun. The intense heat can quickly dry out the soil, depleting plants' water reserves for photosynthesis. Therefore, it is essential to have a regular, consistent watering schedule during summer to keep your plant's leaves from wilting and drying out.

Generally, most plants need 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week, enough to reach the soil up to six inches deep where most roots originate. However, this can increase during the summer days due to extreme heat. To decide if your garden needs watering, check the soil moisture. This will help you know how quickly the plants are using water.

The best way to check your soil moisture levels is the finger-poking method. Insert your finger about 2-3 inches in the soil; if it feels dry at that depth, it's time to water. The best time for a watering session is early morning, ideally an hour before sunrise or in the evening. If you water in the late afternoon during summer, most water will be lost through evaporation rather than absorbed in your plant's roots, halting its growth.

2. Consider Drip Irrigation

With intense, long sunny days in the summer season, it's not possible to be always around when your plants need hydration. If you want to automate the irrigation game of your garden with double the efficiency, consider drip irrigation. Based on a network of tubes, emitters, and valves, drip irrigation delivers water directly to the root zone of plants.

This method prevents overwatering or water puddles around your plants, which may become a breeding ground for pests and weeds. Plus, drip irrigation uses 50% less water and boosts the health of your yields by 20-50%, becoming a go-to for both the summer season and healthier, fuller gardens. The best part? You can set up an automated watering schedule on your drip system with timers, so you no longer need to skip beach picnics or BBQ sessions!

3. Mulch

Mulch helps to keep the soil moist during intense heat and prevents weeds from invading your garden. When a layer of organic or inorganic material is applied over the soil, it helps shield the soil from the sun rays and wind. This way, mulch decreases the rate of surface evaporation, meaning you won't have to water as often, and your plants will stay hydrated throughout the day.

As any gardener would know, weeds compete with your desired plants for light, water, and nutrients. Applying a thick layer of mulch can block the sunlight from reaching weed seeds, thereby stopping their germination and growth. To improve soil quality and reduce evaporation, opt for a 2-3-inch-deep layer of organic mulch (wood chips, straw, or pine needles). But, if weeds remain a problem, install a chemical-free weed barrier around your plants.

4. Provide Shade

If some plants are exposed to direct sunlight for more than six hours a day, look for ideas to create shade, or your plants may get sunburned or scorched. Although vegetable beds and spring blooms can respond positively to sun exposure, too much of it can do more harm than good. Here are a few ways to save your plants from excessive sunlight:

  • Invest in a shade cloth or build one using poles and clips
  • Plant taller plants or trees to provide natural shade for smaller crops
  • Install a portable canopy or garden umbrella and move it as needed
  • Use floating row covers (FRC) for vegetable gardens or flower beds
  • Create shade with structures like trellises, arbors, or pergolas

Gardeners who can't place the plants in the shade should at least introduce an artificial shade near the plants that are most exposed to the sun. This could be as simple as draping a cloth over a lawn chair or installing a lattice panel. During the intense heat waves, this may mean the difference between healthy plants and those being burnt.

5. Deadhead and Prune Regularly

Garden maintenance isn't a task that should only be done in early fall or late spring. Instead, it's best to tidy up your garden in the summer to see beautiful flowers and healthy herbs in action. This is where deadheading comes in, a practice that involves cutting spent or faded flowers from your garden. Removing overgrown or dead branches and stems fuels healthy growth and maintains the shape of your herbs.

Since pruning helps gardeners get rid of dead and diseased branches, it improves airflow and sunlight penetration. This reduces the all-too-common risk of fungal diseases and pests during summer. Use pruning shears or clean, sharp scissors to snip off spent flowers just above the first set of healthy buds/flowers for deadheading.

6. Feed Your Plants

Summertime, the season of plant growth, is fueled by the sun's intense light. Just as we thrive on a balanced diet, so do our plants. To meet their nutritional needs, consider an organic fertilizer. These are rich in phosphorus and nitrogen, promoting healthy growth and development. Apply this during mid-summer to maximize its benefits.

After applying the fertilizer, water your plants well. This helps the soil to absorb the fertilizer and carry the nutrients down to the root zone where needed. As a bonus, you can complement the organic fertilizer with a layer of compost or leaf litter. Both slowly release nutrients in the soil as they decompose, providing a consistent nutrient supply to your garden.


While the summer season is best for plant growth and development, too much heat can be harmful to your garden, causing the leaves to turn brown and crisp. To keep your garden looking great through summer, opt for a consistent watering schedule that hydrates the root zones of your plants and keeps them from drying up.

If you want to keep your plants moisture-rich, use a drip irrigation system by DripWorks. As the greener, cost-effective watering solution, drip irrigation ensures that your plant gets the water it needs without wasting resources. Want to learn more? Contact DripWorks to transform your summer garden today!