VIRGINIA BEACH , Va. – Summer is a great time to enjoy your garden but brings its own challenges. When the heat arrives follow these tips from STIHL and outdoor living expert P. Allen Smith to keep your lawn and garden looking perfect all season long.
· If your spring-blooming perennials are starting to look a little worse for wear, cut them back to encourage new healthy growth. It’s safe to do this until mid-July.
· When pruning hedges, shear the sides on a slight bevel, so the bottom sticks out a bit further than the top. If the top of the hedge grows out too much, it will shade the bottom branches and they will become thin and leggy. When pruning the top, create a cutting guide by anchoring poles at each end of the hedge and stringing a level line in between; then just prune along the line for a clean, finished look. The STIHL HSA 65 Cordless Electric Hedge Trimmer will make quick work of this project.
· Cut lavender blooms in early morning before the sun burns off the aromatic oils. After the flowering stops you can lightly prune the plant to keep it in shape. You can keep your hands protected with a pair of the STIHL HomeScaper Series™ gardening gloves.
· Deadhead lilacs after the blooms fade. This prevents seeds from developing and directs energy toward next year’s blooms. Cut the stems back to a single set of leaves.
· Raise the blade on your lawn mower to about 2-3” depending on the grass species. Doing so helps keep the roots cool and conserves moisture—a must during the hot, dry weather typical of July. Remember to pick up larger twigs and rocks to help preserve the condition of your blades, and make cleanup easy with the STIHL lawn mower bag—a large mesh bag with a wide opening that hangs on your lawn mower handles.
· Now is a good time to make rose cuttings. Choose stems that are just under the diameter of a pencil. Make your cut at an angle just above a leaf node. Be sure the cutting is at least 4-5” long and has a couple sets of leaves.
· Keep those weeds pulled, particularly those that spread by reseeding. If you can get rid of them before they go to seed you’ll have less work next year. Avoid getting sore hands and fingers from weeding by wearing gloves with extra padding, like the STIHL Proscaper Series gloves.
· Provide a source of clean water to attract birds to your garden. Bird baths should be shallow with a rough surface for the birds to stand on. Place the bath at least four to five feet away from feeders to prevent droppings and seed debris from contaminating the water.
· Freeze summer berries for winter use by spreading them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and placing it in the freezer. Once the berries have frozen, toss them into an air-tight bag and store in your freezer. This works for blackberries, blueberries and raspberries.
· Sun-dry Roma tomatoes for use this winter. Cut them into thin slices and lay them on a cookie sheet. Salt and pepper the pieces and place the tray in the sun. Once dried, just place them in airtight bags and put them into your freezer.
· As you begin your garden cleanup in preparation for the fall, be sure to remove and throw away any diseased foliage. Don’t put it in the compost pile. This will help prevent fungi like black spot and powdery mildew from carrying over to next year. Depending on the size of your garden, you may be doing some extensive shovel work. Protect your feet with durable, steel-toed work boots.