By nearly every measure, summer has arrived. Never mind that June has felt cooler and more spring-like than May–kids out of school and over 16 hours of daylight can only mean that summer is here! As you wrap up your spring checklist of filling planters and beds with colorful flowers, it’s time to shift into summer maintenance mode. Here are a few tips to ensure a thriving lawn and garden this summer.

First, if you haven’t already, it’s important to settle into a routine for watering and fertilizing your flowers. Like anything living, plants need consistent care, and will reward your efforts with increased growth, flowering, and resistance to insects and diseases. Water hanging baskets and pots once a day, and twice daily when daytime temperatures exceed 80 degrees.

As for fertilizing, plan to feed your annuals weekly with a high-quality fertilizer like Jack’s Classic, a professional-grade fertilizer that gives superior results to any other commonly-used fertilizer. Summer annuals are powerhouses of color, with many blooming from spring well into autumn, and as such require regular feeding to keep them looking their best. A water-soluble plant food like Jack’s delivers nutrients directly to the roots and can feed much more quickly than granular slow-release fertilizer. Visit Vander Giessen’s to let us help you pick out the best Jack’s blends to keep your plants healthy and strong all summer long.

If meteorologists are correct about this summer’s weather, we could be in for a dry summer much like we’ve had the last few years. Whether or not you have an underground irrigation system installed to water your lawn, adding drip irrigation is a simple, low-cost way to ensure your plants stay happy throughout the summer months and your water bill doesn’t go through the roof, either.

A drip system can be set up to work with your existing in-ground irrigation system or as a stand-alone system plumbed to an outdoor faucet with a hose-end timer for easy automation. Simply run your mainline tubing throughout your flowerbeds and add drip emitters at the base of each plant to direct water exactly where it’s needed, or use “microspray” misters to broadcast water over a larger area where individual emitters are impractical. Drip systems really are simple to install—and dare I say fun, as well! Stop by Vander Giessen Nursery and check out how easy it can be to set up a drip system for your beds with just a weekend’s work.

Installing a drip system for your flowerbeds is one step you can take to maximize the efficiency of your water use in the garden this summer. Another step you can take to be more efficient with watering is to spread bark mulch in your flowerbeds. Not only does bark help hold moisture in the soil, it reduces weeds, moderates soil temperature for happier plants in both summer and winter, and adds a beautiful finishing touch to your flowerbeds.

Finally, if you choose to let your lawn go brown this summer, that’s fine, but barring any soaking rains in July and August, plan to water at least once a month to ensure your lawn’s survival. Lawn grasses in our part of the country are not generally able to withstand such long stretches of drought as we’ve had the last few summers, and without some rain or occasional watering, that brown dormant lawn will turn into a brown dead lawn. A monthly watering may not keep your lawn green, but it will keep it alive—and it’s much cheaper and easier to water a few times over the course of the summer than face the task of replacing your lawn this fall or next spring.

Summer is a time to have fun outdoors, so make the most of the time—and money—you spend in your garden this season and take steps to work smarter, not harder, outside.