The summer heat is here. What to do in your garden now.

Citrus garden
Taken from The Garden Refresh © Copyright 2022 by Kier Holmes, photograph by Emily Murphy. Published by Timber Press. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

“I’m a garden writer with dirty knees,” says Kier Holmes, a landscape designer and avid gardener. Her new book, The Garden Refresh: How to Give Your Yard Big Impact on a Small Budget, is filled with tips on how to do just that.

“I’m money-conscious so I have trouble even spending my client’s money,” Holmes admits. “With this book, I want to help people save money and make their garden more beautiful.”

Some takeaways? Holmes recommends starting plants from seed: “You can find more unique varieties, plus they are a fraction of the cost of nursery-grown plants.”

The Garden Refresh book cover
The Garden Refresh © Copyright 2022 by Kier Holmes,
photograph by Emily Murphy. Published by Timber Press.
Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

She also advises getting free wood-chip mulch delivered by tree companies or your local electric company. (As long as it’s not from black walnut or eucalyptus trees, which contain a chemical that prevents other plants from growing.)

And Holmes advocates for thrift store and flea market hunts to find used garden furniture, containers, and even tools and building materials. “Not only will this save you money, but one-of-a-kind items personalize your garden and make it unique,” she says.

Above all, she wants readers to “avoid the insta-garden.” Says Holmes, “Gardening is about the process and the journey, plus a garden is never really done.”

With that in mind, some ideas for your garden this summer:

PLANT

Plant seedlings for summer fruits and vegetables, including cucumber, eggplant, melons, and tomatoes.

Plant summer annuals from seed or seedling: Blanket flower (Gaillardia), calendula, marigold, Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera), and zinnia are all good picks.

MAINTAIN

Irrigate fruit trees, citrus, and flowering trees deeply every other week (or weekly in hot climates). Hoe weed seedlings on a dry, clear morning, and the sun will kill their tiny roots by evening.

Water deeply before you pull mature weeds, whose taproots come out of damp soil more easily than dry soil.

Weeding and watering are early summer’s main tasks. Monitor your drip systems, hand water, and allot around 20 minutes a day to weeding for a picture-perfect garden.

Cut flower garden

Taken from The Garden Refresh © Copyright 2022 by Kier Holmes, photograph by Emily Murphy. Published by Timber Press. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

PROTECT

Too much water during high temperatures fosters fungal diseases. Check the soil with a screwdriver. If it goes into the soil easily and the blade feels damp and cool to the touch, there is no need to water yet.

Keep leaves of cucumber, melon, and squash dry to stave off powdery mildew.

HARVEST

Pick yellow summer squash and zucchini when they reach 5 to 6 inches long. For stuffing, salads, and stir-fries, collect squash flowers in the morning when they are fully open.

Pick ripe fruits and vegetables daily. Doing so prevents rot, and keeps many crops flowering and producing.