35 Summer Landscaping Tips for the Best Lawn

Trista - July 7, 2019

Summer is the ideal time to relax and enjoy all of the hard work that the previous autumn and spring’s labors have created. However, there are still some essential landscaping tasks that are necessary during the summer month. Thankfully, they’re not as arduous as the autumn and spring tasks, and more finely focused on keeping your beautiful landscaping healthy and happy throughout the hot summer months.

In fact, some summer maintenance involves pleasant, leisurely tasks like deadheading old flowers or simply picking vegetables and fruit. Read on for 35 summer landscaping tips on aeration, soil maintenance, pest control, welcoming in beneficial creatures, and more.


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1. Aerate Your Lawn

If your yard is starting to look a bit worn out and sickly, even with fertilizing and proper moisture, it may need aeration. Aeration, which is punching holes into your lawn, allows water and nutrients to reach the deep roots of your grass more efficiently, which improves its overall condition.

To test if you need to aerate your lawn, pull up a turf sample that is at least four inches deep. If the layer of grass mat is a half-inch thick or higher, your yard could definitely use aeration. There are easy aeration machines you can rent to make quick work of large areas. For smaller areas, simply punching even holes with a pitchfork or another lawn tool can work.


2. Remove Unwanted Weeds

While there is a great deal of debate around what truly makes a weed a weed and not just an unanticipated flower, many gardeners who are intentionally growing certain species will wish to periodically weed their gardens and yards throughout the summer to avoid weeds siphoning precious water and nutrients away from their intended plants.

Weeding by hand can be thankless and exhausting, so summer is also a great time to look into more permanent weed solutions like landscape fabric or heavy mulches to keep weeds down. Organic chemical solutions like vinegar sprays can also help target weeds widely.

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3. Fertilize

Like all living things, plants need nutrients to thrive and be their most robust and beautiful. The foods that plants most crave are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. On pre-mixed fertilizers, these chemicals are typically presented in numbers like 1-1-1 or 2-4-2.

A 1-1-1 fertilizer means that it is equal parts nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium and very diluted. A 2-4-2 involves two parts nitrogen to four parts phosphorous and two parts potassium, and at a more potent overall strength. Some fertilizers are as strong as 30-30-30 and must be strongly diluted — research what your specific plants and grass type need before application.

Old Farmer’s Almanac

4. Divide Mounding Perennials

Many mounding perennials like Hostas, Daisies, and Irises can get quite robust after a few summers of growth and begin to choke themselves out. To avoid any limitation on their growth, it’s crucial to divide these types of perennials occasionally. It is best to divide mounding perennials in the spring, early summer before flowering, or autumn after flowering is complete.

The best part of mounding perennials is that, over time, you get more plants for free! One or two Hostas will, over time, become a healthy dozen plants or so through careful dividing. When dividing, transplant the divided portions immediately to minimize transplant shock.


5. Water Infrequently but Deeply

One common mistake many beginning gardeners make, whether with indoor houseplants or outdoor lawns, gardens, and vegetables is watering too often and too shallow. When only given frequent shallow waterings, plants will begin to grow their roots upwards to take advantage of the small amounts of water, which makes weaker and less healthy plants.

House plants can be bottom watered to avoid this phenomenon, but plants in the ground cannot benefit from this method, so you must do longer, deeper waterings to ensure healthy deep root growth. Try watering only once a week, but for a considerably longer time so that the water can penetrate deeper into the soil and encourage downward roots.

Lawn Doctor

6. Water In Early Morning or Evening

It’s natural to want to go outside and water your plants at the hottest part of the day, when it’s most enjoyable to be outside and when your body most wants water. However, this can often be quite damaging to your plants. When watered during the hottest portion of the day, much of the valuable water will quickly evaporate, and droplets on leaves may magnify the sun and cause leaf damage.

Watering in the cool early morning hours or late evening as the sun is lowering are both ideal times. Try to avoid watering overnight on chilly nights, as the cold and moist conditions may encourage rot or fungal growth. And, of course, always check the weather before watering!

Landscaping Network

7. Consider Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation is widespread on hobby farms as a low-maintenance way of carefully watering crops with minimal water loss due to evaporation. For personal lawns, drip irrigation can be installed under the sod surface and attached to irrigation systems, even those controlled by smartphones.

While drip irrigation does require a substantial investment and resodding up front, it’s one of the most environmentally responsible ways to water a lawn, as there is almost no water lost to evaporation since you are watering underneath the grass itself, away from the sun’s heat. It is also healthiest for your yard, as it encourages deep root growth.

Birds and Blooms

8. Deadhead Flowering Plants

One of the simplest, but most effective, gardening tricks you can do throughout the summer to keep your flowers looking their sharpest is to “deadhead,” which means removing the dried flower heads once they are done blooming. This landscaping tip keeps the plant focusing its energy on producing new flowers.

Many flowers, like Petunias, Marigolds, and more are easy to save seeds from when you deadhead them! Gently separate the petals until you find the seeds. Guides online can show what each flower’s seeds should look like it. Save the seeds in labeled envelopes to try your hand at starting your own plants from seed next spring!


9. Don’t Mow Too Short

It’s a natural inclination to want to mow your grass as short as you can, so you have the longest time until you have to mow it again. We’re all guilty of it. However, giving your grass a buzz cut every time you mow can hurt your lawn over time, especially if your yard is a variety of grass that doesn’t appreciate short mowing, like Bermudas.

While some hardy grasses can be mowed relatively short, grasses like Bermudas and Fescues shouldn’t be cut shorter than three to four inches high. Mowing shorter than that can damage the grass and leave it susceptible to disease and pest infestation. It can also dehydrate the grass and lead to long term damage.

House Logic

10. Mulch Is a Must

Mulch provides many benefits in a perennial flower or vegetable garden. Mulch helps to hold in water from rain or irrigation, reducing the need for artificial watering. Mulch also helps to suppress weeds by weighing down the soil and stopping them from emerging. Black mulches can also help hold in heat around tender or heat-loving perennials.

Many types of mulch are available, from gravel and rock to recycled rubber tires, to wood and bark chips or shreds. The mulch you choose should be based on numerous factors, including cost per square foot, which can vary widely by material, environmental concerns, and aesthetics.


11. Prevent Mosquitoes

We can all probably agree that the one thing we don’t want as part of our backyard landscaping is mosquitoes. Not only are these blood-sucking pests annoying, but they can also transmit dangerous diseases like West Nile and Dengue Fever. Even without disease, their bites are painful and irritating.

To prevent mosquitoes, make sure no standing water is allowed to remain in your yard, either in low points or in empty containers like flower pots or wheelbarrows. Any amount of stagnant water is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Treat ponds and water features with pesticides specifically designed to kill mosquito eggs.

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12. Welcome Pollinators

Our bees are really struggling, and our pantries and grocery stores will look devastatingly different if they don’t make it. In the past, some species of butterflies have also struggled, including the regal Monarch. To help these beautiful pollinators survive, consider adding some popular pollinator plants to your yards during the summer.

Decorative Milkweed varieties, Bee Balm, Marigolds, and many more flowers are all desirable food sources to pollinators and will ensure your yard is happily buzzing all summer. Make sure any pollinator plants have not been treated with Nicotinoiod pesticides, and avoid using them yourself as they have been implicated in colony collapse.

British Bird Lovers

13. Invite Feathered Friends

Birds are not only beautiful creatures but also helpful little friends who can eat plenty of bugs, depending on the species. Welcome birds to your yard by planting food sources like sunflowers throughout your space and a variety of heights and densities of plants to provide cover. Moving water, or even a simple birdbath, will also attract birds from miles around.

If you choose to feed or provide water for birds, make sure the feeders and birdbath stay clean at all times and don’t allow water to become stagnant. Birds can quickly become sick from spoiled or soiled food and water, primarily when congregating together in large groups.

Oregon State University

14. Welcome Bats

While bats are often associated with witches, vampires, and Halloween, they are actually incredibly beneficial predators that eat many times their weight in mosquitoes, gnats, and other annoying bugs every single night. Using their sonar echolocation, they are excellent predators, able to catch insects mid-flight. They’re also a lot of fun to watch swooping through the trees at dusk.

Bats are prevalent throughout most urban and suburban areas; making them feel at home can be as simple as keeping a lushly planted garden that produces the insects they like to eat. If you truly want to make them feel at home, contact your local extension service about adequately installing a backyard bat house.


15. Prevent Deer (and Their Ticks)

Deer are a pretty common nuisance throughout suburban areas and sometimes even in the middle of cities if there is enough water and cover source nearby. Deer can be incredibly destructive to many garden plants and even trees in the winter. Deer also bring the dreaded Deer Tick, which is the source of human Lyme disease infection.

To keep deer out of your yard, try planting deer-resistant plants in addition to having secure fencing around the perimeter of your property. Poisonous plants, like Daffodils, Foxgloves, and Lilies of the Valley are all avoided by deer. Strong smelling plants, like Mints, Lavenders, and Sages also repel deer.

Garden Stack Exchange

16. Seeding Patchy Areas

It’s almost inevitable that through neighborhood dog visits, winter kill, sun scorch, or some other factor, a patch of your lawn will end up looking patchy and uneven come summer. Early summer is the ideal time to patch these areas, as the rain and warmer temperatures will reduce seed rot and ensure faster germination and growth.

Make sure, when purchasing seed that you try to match the pre-existing grass in the area closely. Also keep the shade level in mind, as even within one type of grass some cultivars are better suited to sun or shade. Gently rake the patchy area before broadcasting the seed. Keep the area moist until the seedlings begin to emerge.

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17. Adjust Soil pH

If you want to grow a specific shade of Hydrangea or an acid loving plant like Blueberries, the pH, which refers to the relative acidity or alkalinity of your soil, is incredibly important. Some region’s soils are naturally more acidic or alkaline than others, while other factors like adjacency to acidic trees like pine trees can significantly affect the dirt.

There are many kits available at garden centers and big box stores that allow you to test your soil and get a relatively accurate reading of the pH. If you are planning on doing a large landscaping project, take several tests throughout the project area as the pH can vary widely, even within relatively small areas.

Garden Design

18. Pruning

While many think of pruning as an autumn task, plenty of pruning can also be done in early summer or even periodically throughout the summer. Heavy pruning should always be limited to times when the plant is dormant and thus less prone to stress, but targeted pruning meant to encourage new growth is a relaxing summer activity.

Fruit trees, in particular, can benefit from gentle summer pruning to encourage healthy new growth. Rosebushes can also benefit from summer pruning, as it will be obvious which canes are not flourishing by late summer. Always prune with clean shears to prevent disease transmission between plants.

Good Housekeeping

19. Keep Up With Fruit and Vegetable Harvests

Far and away, the most fun summer gardening task is to harvest the spoils of your hard work! As fruits and vegetables begin to ripen, they will attract many pests, including various insects and even little furry pests like chipmunks and squirrels.

Promptly harvesting ripe fruits and veggies not only ensures the best products for you and your family, but it also prevents flies and beetles from viewing your garden as an all-day buffet! Fallen fruit and vegetables also quickly become host to numerous pests and their eggs, so, as much as possible, always keep up with harvesting your delicious garden treats!


20. Remove Dead Plants

Alongside ripe and fallen fruits and vegetables, dead plants are also preferred hosts and snack sources for countless insects. They can also quickly spread any disease, especially if a disease is what killed them. Wet dead plants are also breeding grounds for fungus and disease.

If you see a plant that is declining rapidly, it’s safest to remove it before it has a chance to infect neighboring plants. Never let dead plants stay in the soil near other plants. Promptly removing dead plants will help your remaining plants stay strong and healthy.

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21. Keep Pests in Check

In addition to removing dead plants, weeding, and keeping vegetables and fruit promptly harvested, there are other natural methods you can use to keep pests at bay throughout the summer. Some plants can be grown as natural bug repellent borders, and many safe, organic chemicals work for controlling pests.

Marigolds are well-known for their characteristic odor, and thankfully many insects hate that odor too, as do deer. Planting a thick bed of marigolds around a food garden can help keep down pests. Neem oil, vinegar sprays, and many other safe chemical remedies can also be used to treat insect infestations or even prevent them.

Old World Garden Farms

22. Consider Cover Crops

If you have a large vegetable garden and the weeds are tough to manage, summer isn’t too late to plant a cover crop. Cover crops help stabilize and retain topsoil while also potentially adding nutrients to your soil, depending on the type of cover crop. Cover crops are also typically quick growing, which allows them to choke out slower growing grasses and weeds.

Some conventional summer cover crops include buckwheat, millet, and sun hemp. These cover crops are all suited to hot temperatures and dryer conditions, making them an ideal choice over cool-season cover crops like clover or winter wheat. Many cover crops can even be mowed to keep them tidy for backyard gardens.

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23. Keep Up With Raking

While raking is typically associated with the bounty of fallen autumn leaves, raking is beneficial throughout the entire growing season. Whenever you weed or mow, if you notice an accumulation of debris on your grass, giving it a quick rake can help aerate it and keep disease and insects from spreading.

Raking in between rows in a vegetable garden is also a quick and easy way to eliminate easy to pull, weak-rooted weeds like young amaranths and pigweeds. However, raking does agitate soil which can cause further weed growth down the road, so weigh your options with rake weed control.

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24. Start Planning Fall Plantings

Even in the peak of summer’s heat and sunshine, it’s never too early to start thinking about the beautiful colors of autumn and plan out your autumn plantings. Autumn is an ideal time to plant fall classics like Mums and Sedums, as well as all but the tenderest perennials.

As plants begin to go dormant in autumn, it’s the perfect time to plant, transplant, and divide them without overly shocking the plant. Any landscape plants that you didn’t have time to plant in the spring would happily go into the garden come autumn, so grab a notebook and start planning your autumn additions!

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25. Start Summer Seedlings

Part of planning your autumn gardening projects can be starting seedlings for autumn transplants. The warm, intense sun of summer is ideal for starting seeds indoors as your soil will easily reach the required temperatures, which can be a struggle in spring when seeds are traditionally started.

Perennial grasses are a fantastic introductory project on seed starting as they germinate quickly and grow and transplant very well. Many perennials that can be planted in fall are suitable for starting indoors in summer, which is also a fantastic summer break educational project for kids.

PA Landscape Group

26. Repair Hardscaping

Hardscaping refers to the hard permanent and semi-permanent materials in your landscaping, such as pavers, bricks, and so on. Summer is a great time to clean, inspect, and repair your hardscaping before another winter sets in and does further damage.

A power washer is an excellent investment for any homeowner with a lot of hardscaping, as they can easily wash away the grime that accumulates throughout the winter and spring. After power washing, look for chips, cracks, and other damage that could worsen over time. Patch whatever you can, and call in a professional for more extensive or structural damage.

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27. Test Soil In Numerous Places

In addition to acidity and alkalinity, there are numerous tests you can perform on your soil to determine its overall composition and health. The nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium levels give valuable insight into how much fertilizer you will need to apply throughout the growing season, while the pH can help direct what you plant where.

If you are planning a vegetable garden, test in at least a few areas to make sure your soil is uniform, and if it isn’t, work to remedy that through soil modifications like fertilizer, sand, coffee grounds, and more. For large landscaping projects, perform many tests to ensure that all of your various plants will be happy and healthy.


28. Tidy Shrubs and Hedges

Summer pruning also means summer keeping shrubs and hedges tidy. While the bulk of hedge and shrub shaping and pruning should occur when the plants are dormant in fall or early spring, fine-tuning should be done in the summer when you can see the shrubs and hedges in their fully leafed-out form.

For any flowering shrubs and hedges, wait until the flowers are complete before doing any pruning. Never prune a plant while it is flowering or bearing fruit, as it could significantly stress the plant. Keep an eye out for not pruning too much new growth as well, as this is also shocking to a plant.

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29. Start Composting

Summer, with its bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables from the grocery store, farmer’s markets, and maybe even your own backyard garden, is the perfect time to start a composting system. There are multiple methods, from simple backyard piles to high-tech indoor closed systems, which make composting a breeze.

No matter which method you choose, never compost meat products or meat-eating animal feces; these items can harbor dangerous bacteria and parasites that composting may not eradicate. For open compost piles, do not build them near any structures, as the composting process can generate enough heat to start small fires.

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30. Repair Pet Damage

Whether it is your own dogs or the neighbor’s faithful Fido who uses the same pee spot every day, dog urine will eventually cause at least a few chemically burned patches in your yard. The only way to prevent this damage is to rinse and dilute the urine immediately after it is deposited, but that sounds like much work, especially in a busy dog-walking area.

To repair, rather than prevent, the damage, dig up burned areas in early summer and reseed them with the appropriate grass mix to both match the pre-existing grass type and the shade or sun conditions. Keep the seeds evenly moist until they begin growing. Erect a temporary fence to keep dogs out while the area heals.

Old Farmer’s Almanac

31. Fill In Gaps With Annuals

No matter how carefully you plan, it is almost inevitable that your perennial garden will end up with a few bald spots. Either a plant will die, grow in a direction you didn’t plan, or just not thrive and fill out the way you had anticipated. Don’t worry, this happens to every gardener and is easy to fix with annuals!

Many annuals are hardy enough to transplant throughout the summer, even in hot conditions, as long as you water them well and deeply after transplanting. Fill in bald spots with brightly colored, beautiful annuals and no one will ever know that Cosmo was really meant to be a Columbine. As the annual dies back, replace it in the fall with another perennial for a beautiful spring appearance.

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32. Plant Tender Bulbs

Some profoundly tender bulb flowers, like the Canna Lily, are best planted in summer as opposed to spring, as they cannot tolerate any amount of frost. In northern climates, like USDA zone 4 or above, other summer bulbs like Dahlias and Gladiolus are best planted in early summer as well, due to the threat of late frosts.

To plant summer bulbs, merely plant them as you would autumn or spring bulbs, but apply more watering than you usually would due to the reduced risk of rot and hotter conditions. While planting your summer bulbs, note carefully their locations and which ones need to be dug back up for over-wintering, so you don’t forget them!

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33. Pinch Late-Blooming Perennials

While it may sound mean, pinching early flower heads off of many late-blooming perennials is one of the best things you can do for them! Pinching off early shoot growth forces perennials to focus on growing strong roots along with shorter, bushier habits; these elements are ideal for a plant’s health.

Sedums, Bee Balms, and many other later-blooming summer and autumn perennials greatly benefit from pinching early growth, so as you peruse the beauty of your flower garden and deadhead old flowers, also spend a few minutes pinching off unnecessary new growth so that your perennials will be absolute showstoppers later in the season.

Ehrlich Pest Control

34. Attract Beneficial Insects

While many of the items on this list have dealt with how to avoid insect pests, there are actually several insects that are beneficial to gardens. Praying Mantis and Ladybugs are two incredibly helpful insects that help keep your garden safe by eating problematic bugs like aphids.

Some garden catalogs offer to ship Praying Mantis egg sacs and live Ladybugs directly to your door for introduction into your garden. Yarrow, Angelica, Cosmos, and many other flowers are attractive to both Mantis and Ladybugs; they will help make your garden home to beneficial predatory insects.

Old World Garden Farms

35. Keep Up With Succession Planting

Succession planting is a popular and productive method of vegetable gardening in which crops are carefully timed and planted both to keep producing throughout the season as well as encouraging plants to grow at the peak times for their heat and water requirements.

To try out succession planting in your own garden, a simple method is to pull spent beans towards the middle to end of the summer and replace them with peas or another cool-weather crop. There are many guides online for how best to follow succession planting in your specific USDA zone and climate.