6:00am

Sat June 21, 2014
The Garden Report

For Summer Solstice, Balance Garden Work With Relaxation

Mulch keeps the weeds down and holds in moisture.
Credit Christian Wilcox / Flickr - Creative Commons

There's always something to do in the garden. You can spend the longest day of the year weeding, digging, mowing and pruning. Or you can take time to relax and enjoy the flowers and fruits of your labor on the Summer Solstice.

Tom Throgmorton has some tips on reducing the gardening workload, with more time to relax outside.

Those unwanted weeds are growing fast by the summer. While electric weeders get the job done faster, they may also destroy more than just weeds. When the clear-cut approach is used, wildflowers can be decimated. Hand pulling is a more delicate but time consuming approach. It involves crawling around; dirt under the fingernails; and moist, loose soil to get the whole root out.

Hoeing is another alternative. It works best on young weeds when there's room to get a hoe in between the flowers or veggie rows. Spraying an herbicide also works, as a last resort for tough perennial weeds like bindweed, mallow and thistle. Be sure to use herbicides with care and read the instructions.

Once the weeds are out, a thick layer of mulch keeps them down. Mulches won't keep a garden completely weed free but it reduces their numbers and holds in moisture, preventing the need for excessive watering.

Grass clippings are an easy to find organic mulch that gets the job done, but they aren’t as aesthetically pleasing to the eye. When mowing, leaving the grass clippings on the lawn keeps the weeds down and acts as a natural fertilizer.

Chipped or shredded hunks of wood are organic mulches that are more decorative than grass clippings and come in a variety of colors ranging from light tan to dark, reddish brown. The drawbacks to wood chunks: they can be fairly expensive; they blow away; and they don't breakdown as quickly to help build the soil.

The most important part of summer garden care is sitting back and enjoying the garden. The weeds, lawn and watering can wait. Smell the flowers, munch some fresh veggies and sit in the shade of the trees.

Related Program