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End-of-Summer Garden Design Tips

Enjoying these last weeks of summer? Me too! One thing I’m not enjoying: watching portions of my yard begin to die due to the extreme heat and lack of rain. The heat also makes it difficult to work out in the yard at this time of year, and sometimes I find it hard to motivate myself to maintain my outdoor space. Other than watering, of course. Today’s post is dedicated to beating the “summer slump”! I’ll share a few helpful tips that can apply to any yard in any climate. When it comes to garden design, this is the time of year to keep your chin up, dream of the upcoming cool fall weather and begin preparing your yard for the new season. Let’s get started…

Avoid the summer gardening slump

The pictures in today’s post are from my yard, and the tips come from personal experience. Consider this a little gardening pep talk to get you through these last weeks of summer!

Take a Good Look at Your Yard

Start by assessing the situation. You’ll find many elements to observe. Perhaps some plants are flourishing, complete with fragrant blossoms:

Vine blossoms in shades of violet

Then again, other areas of your yard may need a little bit of help. As you can see from the picture below, my terraced garden includes blue agave, yucca, bamboo grass, and weeds. Lots of weeds. Sure, the green “ground cover” may look lovely early in the morning (which is when I snapped this pic). But by noon, it’s all shriveled up, looking dried out and droopy. In other words, this weed definitely can’t pass as a ground cover as the day continues. Which brings me to my next tip…

A garden overgrown with weeds

Clean Up

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to get into my yard each week and pull weeds. It’s maybe a once-a-month occurrence. And in the summer, even less, thanks to the heat in my neck of the woods. It’s amazing how something as simple as removing weeds can give your yard a total facelift. The plants below now have room to breathe with the weeds out of the way!

The weeds are under control

In addition to pulling weeds (actually, I ended up just having to cut some of them–they had some serious roots and were nearly impossible to pull), I also trimmed off the dead portions of the bamboo grass (the plant at the back in the image above). A big improvement, as this plant tends to look a bit like a weed! But it tolerates the sun well, so I’m keeping it.

Learn From Your Mistakes

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Here’s an example: on the top tier of the garden, I planted Mexican feather grass. I should be honest–I replanted the Mexican feather grass. Because the feather grass I planted last summer didn’t last too long. Yes, I completely over-watered it! So this summer, I’ve been much less active with the gardening hose, and the plants have thrived.

Silver falls dichondra and Mexican feather grass

When it comes to garden design, learning from your mistakes is key. Is there an area of your yard where the potted plants consistently die? Try moving them to a different spot. Did you think you were watering that rose bush enough, only to have it begin to dry out? Time to give it a hefty drink!

Stay Positive

I know. It sounds like I’m writing a self-help book. I’m not trying to be over-dramatic here, but maintaining a yard is hard work, folks. Really hard! Just when one thing gets under control, another thing spirals out of control. Or you learn that two of your favorite trees have a fungus and need to be sprayed multiple times in order to be saved (true story). So it helps to also focus on the positives!

New blooms on a plumbago still recovering from winter’s frost

For example, the plumbago (above) that died this winter is growing back with green leaves and beautiful blooms. And my idea to move the succulents in my DIY hanging planter ended up being a good call, because the cascading Asian Jasmine that I replaced them with adds a vine-like quality to the back of my trellis, which is in need of more greenery:

Evolving plant life in a DIY planter

And the foxtail fern that was barely hanging on at the end of winter is thriving now, along with the silver falls dichondra I planted in the spring. You can see the silver-green cascading plants beginning to take root in the middle picture below. In just a few months, it’s now a waterfall of pearlescent leaves.

The evolution of a planter

I have three of these planters in the yard, and every time I look at them, I smile:

Cascading silver falls dichondra and foxtail fern

In other words, it gets better. Plants evolve. Plants can recover. And today’s less-than-hearty greenery can become tomorrow’s focal point for your yard. Seriously!

Silver falls dichondra and foxtail fern in a modern planter

Time to Touch Up

Now that you’ve given your yard a little cleanup and cheered yourself up, it’s time to think about other details that need to be taken care of. I can think of more than 20, but I’m going to have to start slowly. We’ll call it fine tuning. For example, if it’s really hot where you live, summer may not be the best time to move plants from one area of the yard to another when they’re growing in the ground. But trimming the dead leaves off your potted plants and transferring the rapidly growing ones to larger containers just might be a step in the right direction.

Regular watering is important during the hot summer months

Now may also be a good time to refresh planters. For example, the succulents below are recovering from over-watering, and there are plenty of empty spaces that could be filled in with other plants. Sometimes a few small changes can really give your outdoor space a lift!

A succulent planter in need of some TLC

For more tips on getting your yard ready for fall, check out this post. It’s never too early to start planning some fun outdoor projects–a great outlet for that burst of autumn energy that will blow in with the first cool front!

Kate Simmons

Kate Simmons is a freelance writer and design blogger with a love of all things decor. She spent her childhood writing stories and working on interior design-themed DIY projects. Kate’s published writing reflects her special interest in how design has changed through the decades. Her blog Mirror80 ( http://mirror80.com/) explores the fashion and [...]

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