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CARSON ARTHUR: Doing outdoor chores in the summer heat

Get your chores done so you can enjoy the summer heat.
Get your chores done so you can enjoy the summer heat. - Carson Arthur

Need a little push to getting some of those outdoor chores done in the hot weather? Here are three things that you need to do now to make your plants just a little bit happier in the summer heat.

Grass first

Summer is when the lawn starts to turn brown. Mostly because the Kentucky Bluegrass is going dormant in the hotter months. To help your lawn out, there are a few things you can do. Raise your mower and take off the bag. Letting the grass grow a little longer helps it stay healthier in the heat — in part because the longer blades help to shade the roots and soil around them, so that they don’t dry out as quickly.

The perfect height for your mower is between 3.5 and four inches high. Another way to protect the roots of your lawn is to remove the bag from the back or side of the mower.

People used to be worried about thatch (an accumulation of clippings) smothering the grass, but we’ve now learned that the cut grass helps hold moisture by shading the ground. Leave the clipping on the lawn for the summer months.

Finally, hit your lawn with a slow-release fertilizer containing nitrogen. Just make sure to use an organic option. This will help your grass stay greener longer and prevent any chemicals from staying in the soil or getting washed into the local waterways.

Weeding

Weeding in the summer may be one of the worst jobs, but it is so important. The summer sun is the strongest light intensity of any of the seasons. This means that your weeds are getting more energy through their leaves than at any other time, including spring. The more energy those weeds store in their roots, the better their ability to spread will be. You have to stay on top of the spread now.

Lasagna gardening

This is often when I start to cheat on the hard work and opt for easier options. My favourite is lasagna gardening. This process is literally putting down a layer of cardboard or newspapers around your plants in the garden, covering all of the exposed sections where weeds can grow. Then you cover the paper layer with three to four inches of mulch. The mulch covers the barrier, which prevents the weeds from getting any sunlight. Conveniently, mulching the gardens in the summer is also really important for holding moisture in the garden.

Rain gauge

The final part of the summer jobs? Head over to your local garden centre and pick up a rain gauge. No more guess work on how much water your plants are getting. Your lawn needs one to two inches of water per week and your perennial beds need a bit more. Make sure to leave the rain gauge up when using the sprinkler so that you know when the watering is done for the week.

Carson Arthur is an international landscape designer and media personality with a focus on environmentally friendly design and low maintenance outdoor rooms.

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