The summer season is nearing its end. You can still make your garden all the more amazing if a few tips are taken the best care of. In fact, late summer is when the natural world begins preparing for winter and even the seemingly far-off spring. When scheduling for your late summer gardening, plan ahead for the animals, nutrients in the dirt, the changing landscape and colors for subsequent seasons.
Create some animal or bird shelters
Deadheading and pruning is a common activity in late summer before the cold winter days roll in. If you have the room, consider using those branches to create a protective habitat for animals in your area. After all, they are looking for a warm place to call home, too.
Also think about pollinators during your plant selection process. Find native plants with a natural appeal to draw in bees, butterflies and birds, who will spread the seeds, enjoy the nectar and pollinate nearby food and other plants.
There are some pests you don’t want to invite to the party, so use natural repellents to treat the mosquitos, aphids, slugs, beetles, spider mites, scale, whiteflies, grasshoppers and other busy pests that tend to chew through your plants.
Your soil needs the most care
The drying leaves and dying buds of late summer may make it look like the activity of the season has died down, but in reality, the root systems are coming to life in preparation for the seasons to come. Apply fertilizer to your lawn and plants so they don’t have to work so hard to acquire the nutrients they need. Also continue to provide water as needed. Go ahead and use the rest of the collected rain barrel water before the rain starts again.
By the way, if you haven’t set up your water collection system, now is the perfect time to do so. Be conscious of other water waste that could be used in the garden. For example, after boiling pasta, blanching vegetables and canning, allow the water to cool and pour it on plants outdoors. You can also collect water in the shower or reuse bathwater.
Plant now and order ahead
Late summer is a great time to plan for the fall, so think ahead to what you will need to plant in the coming season as well. Spring bulbs will need to go in the ground soon, so get your orders in for tulips, crocus and daffodils. Plus, go ahead and plant spring blooming trees, shrubs and perennials.
According to Monrovia, a leading nursery company, certain plants work best for late summer plantings. The company suggests Crimson Kisses Weigela for a colorful and compact plant that will bloom throughout the spring and fall. Harlequin Penstemon is a good choice for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds, and Little Joker Physocarpus is drought-tolerant and disease-resistant.
Enjoy the season
September brings cooler evenings and mornings to most time zones while maintaining many comfortable, workable hours in the day. In contrast to blistering heat in the height of summer or the frigid cold that may be coming, late summer is an enjoyable time to dig, plant, weed and haul.
Plant crops for cool-weather
While the flurry of gardening is typically associated with spring, many foods thrive in the late summer season, providing fresh produce as autumn arrives. Plant the same cool-weather crops with short seasons you planted in the spring: spinach, lettuce and other greens, beets, carrots, peas and beans.
Enrich the compost bin
While you’re cleaning out the wilting summer plants from the vegetable garden, add those valuable nutrients to the compost bin. Toss in the end-of-the-season grass clippings and some of the smaller twigs and branches from deadheading and pruning existing plants. All of these ingredients will break down over winter, preparing a compost of food for spring plantings. Avoid adding any leaves infected with black spot, mildew or other diseases that can contaminate the compost.