Summertime To-Do List

Summertime may be filled with lazy days and scorching afternoons, but there are still important gardening projects you can do in your landscape. So apply some sunscreen, put on a protective hat and head outside to do some chores – all while taking the time to smell the blooming roses, salvias and crepe myrtles.


Grass grows the fastest and strongest during this time but to maintain healthy grass and prevent annoying weeds you need to mow often. Ideally, it’s twice a week but at least once every week days is OK. Mow St. Augustine at 3 inches; zoysia at 2 inches; Bermuda at 1 ½ inches; and buffalo or one of the other native mixtures at 4 inches or more. Avoid cutting off more than one-third of the grass blade length.

Watering is needed only in the absence of rainfall. We often have to deal with drought, so you make want to rethink how much grass you have in your landscape. If you do have grass, remember that this is not the British Isles. Our grass does not need to be watered constantly and can survive with once-a-week (or less) watering.

Insects may attack our lawns. Besides using an insecticide, the organic option is to apply beneficial nematodes in June and early July. After that, this option is not effective against turf insects.


Summer is a great time for annuals, but annuals require more watering than perennials. A few exceptions to this rule: zinnias, periwinkle vinca, and cosmos. Water them four or five times and go on vacation.


Prune off spent flowers and the top one-third of the plant in mid-July. This dramatically improves flowering come fall.

Water every other week in the absence of rainfall. Some perennials will naturally go dormant in the heat of the summer. This is normal so do not panic. They will rebound with growth and flowers in the fall. Roses and trailing lantana are examples. Others such as lantanas and esperanza thrive in the heat. Be sure to mix a variety of perennials.


Sit back and enjoy the shade. Not much is necessary at this time. Water occasionally. Remember, the most important watering was done in spring and early summer.

For palms, on the other hand, it is the time to plant! It is important to water frequently and lightly initially, as overwatering is the main cause of death for palms. Once established palms are great in the landscape – they only need water once or twice a year!

Picture of Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson
Mark A. Peterson was a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System before retiring. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you're likely to find him hiking San Antonio's wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.
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