It’s June! Time to Finish Those Spring Clean-Up Chores

Master Gardener Scoop – June 27, 2018

By Linda Summers,
Master Gardener

If you did not get all your gardening tasks done in May, it is not too late to finish in June! There are tasks in your yard–from your shrubs to your flower beds to your lawn and trees–to complete as we enter the summer season.

Finish pruning spring flowering shrubs. Spring blooming shrubs, such as azaleas, forsythias and lilacs, may need some light pruning to shape and make them neater in your yard. Clip off dead flowers now and the plants will send their energy toward developing new buds farther down their stems.

Leave daffodils and tulips alone. Despite how they look as their foliage withers, spring flowering bulbs need their foliage to store energy to produce next spring’s flowers. Planting later-blooming flowers, such as daylilies, among daffodils and tulips helps to cover the dying leaves and extends period of bloom in your flower bed.

Take a look at your flower beds and container gardens. Some annuals, such as pansies, naturally fade away as the weather turns hotter. If your plants do, then pull them and plant annuals that withstand warmer temperatures, such as geraniums, marigolds, petunias, portulaca, zinnias, etc. You’ll have another chance to plant pansies in the fall. Pinch back fall bloomers to create bushier plants with more buds.

Refresh mulches in your flower beds. Most plants and shrubs perform better if they are mulched. The mulch not only helps to keep down the weeds, but it also keeps the soil cooler and slows down water loss. If plants have been previously mulched, you might want to use an all-purpose fertilizer around the plants before adding another inch or two of fresh mulch.

Mow your lawn at a slower pace for a neater look. Most people mow their lawns at least once a week. Wait until the grass is dry before starting up your lawn mower and vary the direction of your mowing from week to week. This is an easy way to help grass grow evenly. As the weather warms even more, raise the mower blade and cut your grass higher. Taller grass withstands drought better and also discourages weeds. Mow your cool season grasses at 2-3 inches and warm season grasses, such as Bermuda or Zoysia grass, to 1 to 1 1/2 inches. The rule of thumb is: do not to remove more than 1/3 the height of the grass at any one mowing.

Water all newly planted plants and trees, but don’t forget about your older, established shrubs and trees. Although sprinklers work best on lawns, soaker hoses are preferred in flower beds and vegetable gardens. If there has not been rain for at least two weeks, remember that your established shrubs and trees also need water. Water trees to cover an area equivalent to the diameter of the drip zone and to wet the soil 12-18 inches deep. Keep in mind, the amount of water the tree needs and the frequency of watering is largely dependent on the soil, temperature and humidity. Drip buckets work well for trees and shrubs that are spaced farther apart in your yard. We use a tall bucket that has a slow leak to it, fill the bucket with water, and let it slowly leak out to water the tree.

Watch out for potential insect or disease problems. Insects reproduce rapidly and are not always beneficial to the life of your plants. Take action to identify pests and know how to treat them. Hand pick insects early. Learn to identify egg clusters and remove them before infestation begins. Besides direct damage to plants, insects may infect plants with diseases. Many early summer diseases may affect your plants and trees starting in June.

For more gardening information on maintaining your vegetables, flowerbeds and lawns, please ask any Master Gardener or Master Naturalist, or call or visit your local University of Illinois Extension Office.