Essential Summer Gardening Jobs: A Checklist

After planting your garden in the spring, it needs some attention through the summer to keep it at its best. The following essential summer gardening jobs help you grow beautiful, healthy plants and reap a plentiful harvest.

Cover Bare Soil with Mulch

Spread 2-3” of mulch such as straw, bark chips, or shredded wood across the soil surface, keeping it from directly touching the plants’ stems.

Mulching the exposed soil surface helps retain soil moisture, lower soil temperature, reduce weed seeds’ germination, and keep low-hanging fruits and vegetables from getting dirty. Over time the mulch slowly breaks down, adding organic material and nutrients to the soil.

Essential Summer Gardening Jobs: A Checklist
Water Deeply but Less Often

The best way to water your garden is to give it a more significant amount of water less often instead of watering it a little bit every day. Watering infrequently but deeply helps build a robust root system that grows deeper into the ground, increasing drought tolerance. The exact timing depends on the plants you grow, the soil type, and your climate.

Essential Summer Gardening Jobs: A Checklist
Give Your Plants Some Food

Over time, your flowers, shrubs, and vegetables pull nutrients from the soil, depleting the soil’s “reserves.” To grow vigorous, healthy plants, you need to add nutrients back through fertilizers periodically. Choose a product suited to the type of plants you are growing, and always follow the label instructions carefully.

Essential Summer Gardening Jobs: A Checklist
Deadhead Spent Flowers

Deadheading is the process of removing dead flowers after a plant has bloomed. Removing the spent blossoms encourages new buds to develop on your plants and promotes new plant growth. Once flowers have faded, cut them off with sterilized gardening shears or pinch them off to the uppermost leaves using your fingernails.

Essential Summer Gardening Jobs: A Checklist
Scout for Pests

Continuously be on the lookout for problematic insect pests, rodents, snails, slugs, and any other intruders that may damage your plants. When problems are noticed, treat them immediately. It’s easier to handle situations when they first appear, and damage may be minimal, then after it becomes a big problem.

Essential Summer Gardening Jobs: A Checklist
Divide Spring-Flowering Plants and Bulbs

Over time, flower bulbs and other clumping perennials can become overcrowded and produce smaller flowers. The best way to remedy this is to dig them up, divide or thin the bulbs, and then replant them.

After the blooms have faded for the summer but the foliage hasn’t died, loosen the soil around the bulbs or plant with a garden spade or shovel. Using your hands, gently dig the plant out of the ground and brush off excess dirt. Divide the large mass into smaller clumps or individual bulbs and replant them into the flowerbed, giving them more space for the next season.

Essential Summer Gardening Jobs: A Checklist
Harvest Ripe Vegetables

When your vegetable plants are getting close to mature, check them every day or two and pick veggies as soon as they are ripe. Veggies can quickly go from being almost ready to overripe in a short time, and picking often encourages some plants to produce more. For the best flavor and texture, harvest after the dew dries off of plants in the morning. They will be at their juiciest and sweetest early in the day.

Essential Summer Gardening Jobs: A Checklist
Check Your Drip Irrigation System

Every couple of weeks, walk around your garden when the sprinkler system is running to check for leaks or clogged emitters. Fix any problems you see to ensure your plants get the water they need.

Essential Summer Gardening Jobs: A Checklist
Clean Up Dead Plants and Foliage

Remove any debris, dead or dying plants, and dropped foliage from the garden and flower beds. Materials on the soil surface can harbor harmful insect pests and encourage fungal growth. Any plants killed by diseases can transmit problems to neighboring plants or the soil.

Essential Summer Gardening Jobs: A Checklist

Summertime doesn’t have to be filled with garden chores, but these nine essential jobs are worth the time and effort to keep your garden growing beautifully and healthy.