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Helping your Garden Grow...and stay cool

Long hot summer days call for some quick tips to help your garden survive.

As the excitement of waiting for those first blooms of spring and setting out new flower and vegetable plants moves toward those long summer days full of sunshine, warm temperatures and little rain, gardeners look for ways to keep their plants healthy, strong and performing as they should. Here are a few tips to help keep those plants happy.

Plants should be grouped according to their water and sunlight requirements so that drip irrigation and soaker hoses can be used for the plants that need more water. Irrigation that is done between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. ensures that more water reaches the plants and is not lost through evaporation before even reaching the plants. When irrigating, direct water to the base of the plants so not to increase disease development on the leaves, and water deeply so that plants are encouraged to have roots growing deeper in the soil. Established perennials and shrubs many times will require less water than annual flowers. Hydrogels that store and release water can be added to the soil around the plants to add a source of moisture to those plants.

A layer of 2-3 inches of mulch will not only cool the soil around the plants, but it will also help retain moisture in the soil. Before planting adding 1 to 2 inches of compost or other organic amendment into the soil to a depth of 4 inches will improve root development.

A soil test will ensure that unnecessary fertilizers are not added and will also save the gardener money. Too much fertilizer stresses the plants and will also mean that the plants need more moisture to process those nutrients.

Raising the mower height for turf areas will reduce the stress on the turf and frequent mowing will produce shorter clippings which become mulch for the turf. Allowing the grass to dry and become stressed before irrigating will encourage the roots to go deeper in the soil for moisture. Deep watering with periods of dryness will also help prevent many types of lawn disease that are caused by over and improper watering schedules.

For additional water, gardeners can add rain barrels to catch water from the house gutters for use in the garden. Indoor water that comes from the faucet while waiting for the water to get hot can be caught and used for watering plants as well.

For further information, contact the Walton County Master Gardeners at or by phone 770-267-1324. Enjoy your summer!


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