Simple Summer Landscape Maintenance

Late summer is a good time to do some simple touch-up maintenance — mulching, replanting, pruning — to your landscape.

Late summer is a good time to just enjoy your landscape or do some simple touch-up maintenance.


The best way to simplify a lot of maintenance responsibilities is to add mulch. I favor a chipped hardwood or pinebark because it allows both oxygen and water to permeate the soil and plant roots. Plants need both to grow and thrive. While popular with some, shredded materials can compact over time and therefore inhibit both oxygen and water. A special note: although it will last for ages, mulch made from bald cypress often comes from old growth forests which have been logged out simply to produce the mulch.

As previously mentioned, shredded materials will compact over time and this is especially detrimental to trees and shrubs where the mulch has been packed against the root collar. There is absolutely no benefit for mulch piled against the trunk and yet both homeowners and professionals do this regularly. As you move through your yard, remove the mulch from around the trunk whenever possible.


Are Bermuda grass or herbaceous weeds slowly invading your beds? Cover them with 1 inch of mulch or hit them with a bit of orange oil and vinegar. You’ll notice that even with just the mulch, weeds pull with ease.


Although planting is best suited to the cooler months, it’s OK to fill in here and there with additional plants. We recommend 1 gallon (aka #1) container plants, but you can use the smaller 4×4 or 6×6 containers, too. It is imperative that you water consistently, that is you never miss a date for the first month or two.

You may also notice that some plants may not be doing as well as others. It might be a good idea to move them into a better spot. Always remember “right plant in the right place.” It’s OK to replant now, but you must remember to water consistently without overwatering. A quart of water three days a week may be all you need.

If you don’t know where to fill in with additional plants or the best places to replant or even what species to replant with, visit There you’ll find all the plants and designs you need to troubleshoot, maintain or refresh your landscape.


Late summer is the time to slightly prune back flowering shrubs like autumn sage and plumbago so they’ll produce generous blooms in the fall. Slightly means ¼ of the current canopy.


Troubleshooting problems in the Summer Landscape has never been easier.

  1. Mulch with hardwood or pinebark chips. Chips increase water and oxygen infiltration.
  2. Remove the mulch ring around trees and shrubs.
  3. Fill in when necessary. Size does not matter but consistency does.
  4. When filling in or replanting, remember “right plant for the right place.”
  5. Prune back flowering shrubs to produce fall blooms.
  6. The best thing about low water landscapes is the homeowner can always add or change. The only rules are to put the right plant in the right place and plant small plants at the front of a garden bed and large ones in the back.
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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