Late Summer Garden Care

Late Summer Garden Care Ted Lare Iowa

There never seems to be enough of the summer to go around here in Iowa, and before you know it, July is behind us. If the words “late summer” make you nervous about the season slipping through your hands, you aren’t alone. But don’t worry, there are tons of ways to make sure that your home, garden, and landscape are top performers straight through until fall. Time to make the most out of the final month of summer left!

fiddle-leaf figs placed indoors

Replacing Tired Annuals

The annuals that we planted in the spring are sprinters, not marathon runners, and some may be looking a little tired this time of year, dragging down the look and mood of your landscape with them. Once aphids arrive, it could be game over for some of these one-season plants. But this is normal, and your garden and planters still have lots of life left!

Summer annuals, especially the heat-lovers, are built for an explosive display of color and life during the height of our Iowa gardening season, so, understandably, they run out of energy when the nights start to cool off a little. They simply aren’t built to last for a whole season and have trouble adjusting to the cooling late summer weather. The solution is to pull them out entirely and replace them with a selection of late summer annuals that are ready to give your landscape a facelift. 

You’ll be surprised how much a splash of fresh-faced color improves the look of your home, and with late summer prices for annuals, it’s very manageable to do. Our favorites are pansies, asters, kale, and sunflowers for a late-season update. Also, late-blooming perennials are a good choice for some August color, as they’ll shine while the rest of the garden is lacking.

fiddle-leaf fig plant

Give Your Annuals Some Maintenance:

Sometimes your annuals don’t need to be pulled out entirely, and they look like they could thrive with a second chance. Many times you can revive your annuals in the late summer with some extra care so that they are ready to keep performing all season. 

Apply fertilizer, which works best when plants are on the dry side and not waterlogged. Even if there’s been lots of wet weather and moisture, it’s important to try to give your plants some fertilizer to fuel their recovery. If possible, move your containers somewhere with a little more shelter and prune back the plants so that they have room to thrive in the rest of the season. You’ll be amazed at their vibrancy and second round of growth, creating a totally flawless summer look.

fiddle-leaf fig plant

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Plant Fresh Vegetables:

Just because the summer is ending soon doesn’t mean that you have to give up your fresh garden vegetables. These cooler Iowa days actually provide the perfect growing conditions for many of your favorite greens. August is the ideal time for growing lettuce, spinach, and even peas, which can withstand a little light frost.

Before you plant, check the information on the seeds to see how long it takes to grow to maturation. You’ll want to select plants that will be ready to eat in 30 to 50 days so that they’ll be ready to eat before the end of the season. Depending on how late in August you start (and how much you like to gamble) you’ll need to adjust your growing times. Thankfully, cooler temperatures and evenings make for crisper, more flavorful food, and growing produce is a great way to insert some life and greenery in your yard, all while receiving a pretty sweet payoff of veggies in return.

The end of summer is the time for the season to start winding down, but there’s no reason for your yard and garden to give up prematurely! By giving your landscape and garden a little pick-me-up in the tail end of the season, you’ll be ready to impress and entertain with a spectacular, thriving garden until the first frost of the season.


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