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Summer Evaluation

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It’s August in Acadiana, and summer shows no signs of slowing down! Now is a great opportunity to evaluate what is working and what is not in your landscape. You should wait to dig up and move plants right now, but having a plan of action for fall is a very good idea.

Are flowering plants and perennials struggling in the heat? Maybe the beds should be enriched with compost, or even built up, so roots can spread deeper. Plants with deep, healthy roots will handle heat and drought stress effects in stride.

Some shrubs, like azaleas, have shallow roots by nature. They will need nice, thick mulch, or an under-planting of Creeping Jenny, or other groundcover, to keep sun off the soil and make sure those thin, fibrous roots don’t fry!

Many plants, even those rated for full sun, perform better with some afternoon shade, especially this far south. Traditional roses and some wildflowers will live longer and bloom better with protection from late afternoon heat. Right now is the time to cut all roses back by 1/3.This encourages more vigorous re-blooming. A tall hedge or row of shade trees along the west side of the property can increase the flower power of perennials. This shade should be situated at least 10 feet (for hedge shrubs) to 25 feet (for trees) away from flower beds, so they still get plenty of sun, but transition to shade about 4pm. This allows the soil to cool, so plants can rejuvenate by morning. Such plantings alongside the house can also drastically reduce summer energy bills!

Are weeds running rampant in the garden? Pulling weeds in the heat is a real chore, so try pre-emergent herbicides. A sprinkle of Dimension in mid-May to early June greatly suppresses the amount that will sprout in your beds. Apply some now to reduce cool-season weeds coming in a few months. A 2-3’’ layer of mulch is also ideal for your landscape to retain moisture and suppress weed take-over.

Now that everything’s looking right, where can we sit and enjoy our backyard beauty? A pergola shaded with jasmine or muscadine vines can be as much as 15 degrees cooler in summer! Amethyst Falls is an excellent wisteria that is fast-growing, but less invasive than its Chinese cousin.