Making your garden better

5 Summer Gardening Secrets

by Kathy Woodard

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Summer is finally here, and with it comes some lazy hours to spend toiling in our yards and gardens. Save time and money on your summer gardening by using these five gardening ideas. These tips are easy on the budget and leave time for sitting in the shade with a glass of lemonade!

Use newspaper to line your planters and containers before you add soil and plants. This will help retain moisture and keep the roots cooler, which means you won't have to water three times a day!

Summer is prime time in many parts of the country for fungus and black spot to attack roses, some vegetables, phlox and other flowers. Instead of spending money on expensive sprays, mix one tablespoon of baking soda and a 1/4 teaspoon of dishwashing detergent in one gallon of water. Pour into a dollar store spray bottle and spray susceptible plants once a week as a preventative, or every other day if you already see signs of mildew.

Want beautiful flowers in late summer and fall? Now is the time to get ruthless. Most flowers need to be cut back after their early summer flowering, and cut back hard. Instead of spending an entire afternoon snipping off one dead flower head after another, get serious. Take a hedge trimmer or even large pair of scissors, and cut back most flowering plants to one third of their height. Yes, you are going to be cutting them back by more than half! I know it sounds harsh, but in a couple of weeks, you will have new growth and your plants will be setting new buds. In addition, most plants can start looking ratty around July, and this will force them to come back more compactly. After cutting back, give them a good drink of water and a light fertilizing with either compost tea or a liquid fertilizer.

In late summer, visit your garden center and purchase perennials and ground covers in gallon pots on clearance. Make your dollar go farther by purchasing plants that are easily dividable. That way, one gallon pot may be divided into four plants or more, and next spring they will be larger and healthier for having been planted this season. Some great choices? Lambs ear, bee balm, shasta daisies, thyme, dianthus, sedums, and daylilies. Any plant that has numerous base branches is a good bet. Here's how to divide perennials.

Finally, fertilize your lawn! Save cash by making your own liquid lawn fertilizer and using a hose end sprayer. Fertilize during the coolest part of the day if you can. Here is a lawn fertilizer recipe by a golf course manager that is sure to make your lawn green in no time, and the kids can still play on the grass! Plus, it' a whole lot less expensive.

One full can of regular pop (any kind, but no diet soda)
One full 12-ounce can of beer (no light beer)
1/2 cup of liquid dishwashing soap (do NOT use anti-bacterial soap)
1/2 cup of household ammonia
1/2 cup of mouthwash (any brand)

Use these summer gardening tips to save both time and money, so you have more time to spend in the garden, not on the garden!

For more gardening ideas, please visit Kathy at The Garden Glove. Also see her at The Budget Decorator for more great cost saving ideas!

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