I know I’m being repetitive when I say that I love this time of year. Look back at any column I’ve written in the past and you’d probably find some reference to how much I love the current season. The truth is, we live in a beautiful corner of the world and with our moderate climate we really can enjoy four seasons of garden interest.

At the peak of summer, however, we reach a tipping point. Gardens can easily go one of two ways: toward continued color and productivity well into autumn or spiraling down into unkempt and under-nourished plants…and overzealous weeds. If you’re a gardener, you’ve undoubtedly been down that road of wondering how much longer you can keep things looking good or how much time you really care to invest in doing so.

Mini Hula Ho

Believe me, I know what it’s like to be there—nurseries and garden centers reach that same tipping point each summer too. As a gardening enthusiast, you’d like to make your flowering investments last as long as possible, so what can you do to keep things looking good in your yard for the last few months of the growing season?

First things first: tackle the weeds! Many gardeners are familiar with the “Hula-Ho”—its unique design allows it to eliminate weeds without the effort of dragging dirt like a traditional hoe. If you’re working in smaller, raised beds and need a hand tool for killing weeds, try the Mini Hula-Ho! I’ve started using one this year in a couple flower beds where it’s difficult to maneuver the full-size version and I love it.

Second, you’ll need to assess your fertilizing program. When was the last time you fertilized your flowers? Your shrubs and perennials? Your lawn? I know, it’s easy to forget—and even if you remembered, you might have run short on time or decided a picnic sounded better that day. That’s alright—there is more to life than just gardening!

Deciding on what fertilizer is right for your garden can be like picking out toothpaste—how many different kinds can there be? While there are some redundancies in what’s available on store shelves, many fertilizers can offer specific solutions for the gardening problems you might be facing right now. For example, do you have petunias, million bells or bacopa in your planters or hanging baskets? If so, they would benefit from a high-iron “petunia feed,” as they are likely becoming iron-starved at this point in the season.

Jack’s Classic All Purpose 20-20-20

Annuals other than those just mentioned will benefit from a “blossom booster” fertilizer for continued blooming through the late summer months. For either of these more specialized fertilizers, I recommend alternating every other week with an all-purpose 20-20-20 water-soluble fertilizer. With any of the aforementioned types of fertilizer, we use and recommend the Jack’s Classic (R) line of water-soluble fertilizers.

For perennials or shrubs, mid-summer is a good time to fertilize with a balanced slow-release like Osmocote so your plants will have sufficient nutrients going into autumn and preparing for winter. Consult your local independent nursery for the best formulation for your plants. And don’t forget to fertilize your lawn! If you haven’t fertilized since spring, you’re past due for another application. For that, now is a great time to apply Scotts Super Turf Builder.

Finally, I can’t stress enough how important it is to maintain a regular watering schedule. Although we’ve recently had some cooler, wetter weather, you need to continue daily watering of annuals to keep your plants looking their best.

As a gardener, you’ve dedicated time and money to make your yard look nice, and with a little extra knowledge and commitment, you can extend the beauty of your flowers well into autumn. Now get out and enjoy the beauty that summer has to offer!