Summer days are long and hot, which can make for water-stressed plants if not properly irrigated. Be sure to check the schedule on your irrigation system and adjust as necessary so plants stay hydrated but not over-watered. A “smart” controller with a localized weather sensor is a water-wise way to provide just enough irrigation to your garden while keeping your water bill to a minimum. Look out for clogged drip line emitters, and take a moment to remove the filter and clean off any accumulated debris. Filters should be cleaned twice each year (more often if water contains higher than normal particulate matter). Scrubbing the filter with an old toothbrush and rinsing works very well to remove dirt and algae that may interfere with water pressure in the irrigation lines. Spend a little time to take care of your irrigation system, and you will never have to worry about watering your plants.
During the driest months, a little additional care will help to keep your garden plants healthy and beautiful. Start by removing dead leaves and branches and deadheading spent flowers. Wash leaves gently to remove dirt and residue. You may use a drop or two of a gentle dish detergent which will also help to kill harmful insects.
As a general rule, the best time to water an outdoor garden is in the morning before the heat of the day. This allows for maximum absorption into the soil and the minimum evaporation or waste. It's important not to over-water or water late in the evening as this can lead to rot and fungal infections.
July and August are the months to "deep water" large trees, including fruit trees. Place a hose near the base of the tree and allow a slow stream to saturate the soil for 20 to 30 minutes. This will help to grow strong and healthy trees that produce large and tasty fruit.
After the seasonal bloom of Rhododendrons and Camellias, it's time to prune. It's preferable to prune after the bloom but before new growth begins. This is also the time to apply a light dose of fertilizer and ensure that the roots are covered with mulch to keep them cool in the warm summer months.