Smart tips for growing a great summer garden

UC Master GardenerJune 26, 2013 

A good layer of mulch will help your summer garden retain moisture and discourage weeds. This is a Chinese bell flower.


Q: This year has been so hot and dry. What are some things I can be doing in my garden now? — Kathy, Paso Robles

A: There’s still plenty of time for you to plant heat-loving summer color in your landscape. Try verbena, zinnia, petunia and portulaca. You can also plant impatiens in shady spots.

July is a good time to feed warm-season annuals, summer vegetables, lawns, roses and subtropical plants.

Remove spent blooms of flowering plants, including roses, to promote continued bloom. Pinch chrysanthemums back and fertilize them for spectacular blooms this fall.

Bearded iris can be planted later in the month. Established iris clumps, which are overgrown, can also be divided and replanted.

In the vegetable garden, cherry tomatoes and squash can still be planted in the North County. In our South and Coastal areas, corn can be planted now.

Pick fruit regularly and dispose of any fruit that has fallen to the ground.

Control gophers by trapping. This activity should be continued throughout the year for the best result.

Inspect all of your garden mulch and add more mulch to areas where it is thin. Mulches are very important in summer — they help retain moisture and keep the soil cooler.

Concentrate on being water wise this summer by closely monitoring your irrigation. Check timers, sprinkler heads, drip lines and emitters, and adjust or replace as necessary. Additional information on irrigation and water conservation tips are available from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Publication 8036: “Water Conservation Tips for the Home Lawn and Garden” which is available online:

In this very dry year, be fire safe by removing dead limbs, trees and piles of leaves near your house and other structures. Keep weeds and tall grasses cut down to stubble. Remove any woody vegetation that grows against structures. More comprehensive information on fire safe landscaping is available online in the University of California ANR Publication 8228, “Home Landscaping for Fire”: .


Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners: at 781-5939 from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday and Thursday; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Arroyo Grande; and at 434-4105 from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners Web site at or  e-mail

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