Mix Up Your Plant Combinations
Having a proper plan for the garden is crucial to making sure that friendly plants get the chance to be planted together. Planting flowers among your vegetables can help in deterring pests from harming all of your vegetables before you can harvest. Mixing up where you put things makes it harder for pests to find all of your tomatoes if they aren’t all together in a group. Flower scents and colors also confuse pests and can keep your garden from getting totally destroyed overnight.
Beware of Bully Plants
Think of your garden as a small city: there will be some upstanding citizens who help everyone, there will be some that don’t do much for anyone else, and then there will be some that will purposely bully the rest of the group. Watch out for bullies in your garden that can take more than their fair share of soil nutrients, water, and sunlight. Vegetables like cucumbers tend to take up a lot of extra space and are water hogs so plant them off in a patch by themselves or near vegetables that don’t need too much extra water. Other plants, like the black walnut tree, give off juglone that can stunt the growth of nearby plants and really affect the production of a garden.
Get to Know Three Sisters Planting
An age old and proven technique that was introduced by Native Americans is the idea of Three Sister Planting. This technique involves planting beans, squash, and corn all in the same area for maximum growth potential. The beans will naturally produce nitrogen in the soil for the corn while also using the corn stalk as climbing support. The squash, which is usually pumpkin, grows fast and has broad leaves that help shade the area from weed growth. These three plant varieties work together in order to grow well and each has its own unique addition to help the others.
Grow Plant Groups That Will Harvest Together
Growing two plants together that normally are harvested at the same time is a great option in companion planting. Things like tomatoes and basil like the same conditions that include hot temperatures and lots of sun. They are also ready to pick at the same time too, meaning that they are frequently used together in many summer dishes. Check the back of seed packets to plant those varieties together that will benefit from being in the same spot in the garden as well as ready to eat around the same time.
Use Natural Diversity
There are many native plants in your garden that will help to attract beneficial species to the area. Choosing to plant milkweed around your garden will naturally attract monarch larvae to make your garden home. Help to support those baby monarchs once they emerge by having nectar-producing flowers nearby in order to encourage the butterflies to stick around for a while. Choosing native plants that are accustomed to the area and naturally diverse in supporting both parts of a pollinator’s life will benefit the entire garden in pollination and maximum harvest potential.
Companion gardening is an important aspect that every new and longtime gardener should be practicing in their garden. Consider choosing plants that work together to support helpful pollinators as well as those that enjoy the same growing conditions. Other factors to keep in mind while planting include mixing up flowers with vegetables as well as keeping bullies away from other plants. Follow these tips while introducing the many benefits of companionship in your own garden.
Summer is no longer a distant dream off in the future somewhere. In a few weeks, the heat will kick in for good. The kids will be home from school. And your home will have to work overtime to keep your family cool and comfortable.
And since there’s only a short window between then and now, you’ll want to squeeze every ounce your can out of your DIY projects before the hot weather sets in for good. That’s why right now is the perfect time to take advantage of the mild temperatures—while they last—and get started on one of these weekend-worthy do-it-yourself jobs!
Spruce Up Your Outdoor Living Areas
There’s no place like the deck or the porch on a summer evening. It’s the perfect vantage point to wait as the heat of the day dissipates, and a much-needed relief after a long day of heat! Give mildewed or dirty lawn furniture a soak with some water and vinegar and hose off pollen, dust, and other grit. Sweep and clean your deck with a commercial cleaner that’s specially formulated for wood, composite materials, or aluminum. Once that dries, lightly sand and seal the deck surface with an UV protectant. Then sit for a spell and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Give Your AC a Little TLC
Your air conditioning unit is going to be working hard this summer, so it’s a smart idea to give it a little tune-up before the worst of the weather comes sailing in. One of the most important things is to change your filters. It’s easy to scoff at recommendations for frequent filter changes—after all, it’s not like your unit is going to explode if you push off filter changes for a little while. But dirty filters do inhibit AC performance. Most notably, they create extra resistance, which means your whole system has to work harder to carry cooled air to you. And that adds up to wasted energy—and higher energy bills! For the smoothest AC performance, clean the condenser coils on your outdoor unit. These can get overwhelmed with dust, pollen, and leaves in the spring, so a good rinse with a hose and a scrub brush is a good idea. Do that, and you should stay cool as a cucumber all summer—without paying extra for the privilege.
Fix Up Windows and Doors
Another way that homeowners frequently lose AC efficiency is through small gaps in their windows and doors. Cracks like these may be tinier than a hairline, but they can still leak cooled air to the outdoors. For an extra tight installation, scrape out the caulking around the window glass and replace it with waterproof silicone sealant. Afterwards, apply foam tape around the window sash and moving parts, and add a little more weatherstripping to the top and sides of any exterior doors. Snap on a door sweep and you’ll have year-round comfort in your home. Of course, if you notice that the seals on the windows have failed, it may be time for replacement windows. Gas-filled insulated models can increase the thermal insulation value by 12 to 17 percent, while a low-E coating can significantly reduce solar heat gain in the summer.
Clean Out Your Garage
It’s late in the spring season, so it’s doubtless that your lawn furniture, kids’ toys, and outdoor equipment has made its first seasonal appearance outside your garage. With a little more space to work with, you can really dive in and jump on that long-standing garage decluttering you’ve been putting off. Start by moving everything—all the boxes, decorations, and tools—out into the yard. Sort it all into three piles: stuff to toss, stuff to keep, and stuff to donate. Then use some stylish storage equipment to put everything back into place. This along-the-wall shelving tutorial is a nice entry point into DIY shelves. Meanwhile, this high shelf option leaves a lot of space to hang brooms and rakes. Either way, with a more advanced storage solution, you’ll actually want to spend time in your garage again!
Do a Gutter Check
April showers might bring May flowers, but May flowers bring plenty of pollen and dropped petals. Your gutters have no doubt been through alot this winter and spring, and they could probably use a good clean out. Very few homeowners love gutter cleaning, but there’s a reason to get it done early: clogged gutters can lead to leaks and foundation damage if you’re not careful. Cleaning them also gives you a good vantage point to look for missing or damaged shingles as well. And hey, you only have to do it twice a year—and fall’s still a long way away!
Gussy Up Your Lawn
Summer, with its parched weather and sky-high temperatures, can do a number on an untended lawn. That’s especially true if you have ryegrass, bluegrass, fescue, or any other cool-season variety planted in your yard—which happens to include most of the US. These grasses have a hard time with summer’s harsh weather, and they need to be prepped to receive the brunt of its wrath. Spring care, including weed control and plenty of watering, will help them make it through. Don’t fertilize unless you have warm-season grasses like St. Augustine or Bermuda, though. Late-summer feeding for cool-season species can have them soaking all the fertilizer far too quickly. Warm-season grasses, on the other hand, appreciate some pre-summer fertilization.
With the help of these late spring home improvement projects, you’ll be all prepped for summertime highs. Bring on the heat!
From blogger/ write rErin Vaughan