Cary, NC — A garden is more than flowers and shrubs. Mid-summer is a good time to look at garden fixtures and accoutrements, from bench and bird baths to planters and watering accessories.
At this time of year, your flower beds should be showing a succession of blooms as Coreopsis and Clematis fade while Coneflowers and Marigolds come on.
Dead-heading some flowers can speed re-bloom. And there’s always watering and fertilizing.
But, like in mid-winter, mid-summer is a slow time for green thumbs.
So, for a moment, forget about the plants. Take a look at your garden. Do you need to replace cracked planters? Would a bench or seat add charm to your garden? Are your hoses leaking and you don’t know why?
Now is a good time to review garden fixtures and accessories while the heat of summer holds sway. We call it Summer Gardening.
Benches and Garden Seating
You’d be surprised – putting some seating in your garden can greatly added to your enjoyment of your own little nature space.
First, decide where you want to sit. Is it under a tree? Is it near a flower bed? What do you want to look at?
Next, decide how much seating you need. Is one chair enough or do you want a bench? Maybe a hammock is right for you, or even an outdoor seating area for entertaining guests.
Finally, decide what kind of seating you want. Look at your home and your garden – would traditional seating or something modern work best in your garden? Wrought iron or wood?
My advice is to start small – one or two chairs and a small table make a nice hangout spot in the garden.
Remember, benches and seats will kill the grass where their legs sit on the lawn. So pick a spot with pavers or gravel, or make a small area for your seating.
Nothing enhances a small garden like a bird bath. But locate it near a supply for water for greatest effect.
Birds will frequent your bird bath, but only if there is water in it regularly. Birds are creatures of habit, and they learn where they can reliably get water. So keep your bird bath full and enjoy the show.
Farther from your water supply, consider a small sculpture or piece of statuary. It can create a dramatic effect (or a subtle discovery) in among a mass of flowers.
While it’s too hot to plant, mid-summer can also be a good time to look at your gardening accessories.
Let’s focus on your water supply for a moment. Do your hoses leak? This is bad news in the summer (or anytime) because it will jack up your water bill and deprive the plants of necessary moisture.
Most hose leaks happen at the connection points – where the hose attaches to the faucet or a watering device.
Tip: buy a bag of washers
When was the last time you changed your hose washers? For less than five bucks, you could save hundreds of gallons of wasted water.
Next, check if everything is tight. Sometimes, hoses get twisted and can loosen their connections through regular use. If necessary, unhook the hose, untwist it and get out the kinks and then reattach it.
An on/off coupler (also called a flow control device) is simply a valve that attaches to the hose on one side and a sprinkler on the other.
This little accessory (starts at less than $3) saves a lot of walking back and forth to the faucet to get the right amount of pressure to the sprinkler.
If you spend time dragging the hose and sprinkler around the garden, hose guides can add a decorative touch and protect your garden beds from damage.
Place hose guides near the corners of your garden beds and easily pull a hose around the flowers without damaging anything.
Finally, take a look at your planters. Are they the right size? Are they cracked or faded or otherwise ratty-looking?
Mid-summer is a good time to examine your collection of planters.
It’s also a good time to pick up some bargains as garden stores typically clean out inventory to make way for fall merchandise.
Summer Gardening: Sit Back and Enjoy
Summer is a lazy season in the garden. Let the bees do all the hard work in July.
Sit back in your new garden chair, admire your new bird bath or planters, watch the water run effortlessly through your hoses and enjoy a frosty beverage.
Story and photos by Hal Goodtree, except hose guides from Amazon.
The Gardening column on CaryCitizen is sponsored by Garden Supply Company on Old Apex Road in Cary.