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Knowing When To Cut Back

It has been a terrific summer to enjoy the outdoors this year and at the same time it has been a busy summer for most gardeners. Flower pots had to be watered constantly, often twice daily, to keep up with this year’s heat and sun. The vegetable garden exploded with tomatoes (I’m already at twice last year’s production) and portions of the vegetable garden needed extra watering to encourage production. Pruning, weeding and deadheading often had to be done in the early mornings or late in the evening to avoid the constant daily high’s above 30C.

With the Labor Day Weekend approaching, and the return of the boys to school next week, our summer ‘vacation’ is nearing it’s end. As fall approaches, there will still be produce to harvest and preserve and fall garden chores to look forward to. Unfortunately, this time of year also means that my time available to putter in the garden drops sharply. In past years, I have struggled in September and October trying to keep up with everything like I was able to while at home full time in the summer. So this year, I’ve taken some drastic steps to reduce my fall gardening load.

In mid-August, I cut back to the ground all my daylilies. I used some sharp light-weight shears to trim the ratty looking growth to about 4 inches. Within two weeks they are already showing signs of new growth and they will look lush and green within another two weeks, holding until winter arrives. This also decreases the amount of foliage you need to clean up in spring, an added bonus.

Cutting back daylilies in summer
The daylily on the left was cut back two weeks ago and is just beginning to put forth some new shoots. The right daylily (an earlier bloomer) was cut back about 6 weeks ago and shows bright green regrowth.

A harder task, was deciding to cut back on the number of potted planters I have around the yard. By now the planters were full and lush (some even overgrown and having been cut back a couple of times). Each however had a massive root base that, especially with this year’s hot dry weather, needed a lot of water. Since I won’t have time to water in the mornings, that means running out every evening after supper and watering. Forgetting for even a day takes it toll. So I made the hard decision to eliminate about 8 planters — mostly those that were either not as drought tolerant or required a trip with a watering can. Sad to see them go, but better to enjoy a smaller number than curse every evening.

Annual Planters
Just a few of the potted annuals I enjoyed all summer but eliminated in the wind-down to a busier fall life.

I look forward to being able to do some rejuvenation planting in the fall as the weather cools and am happy that I have at least partially decreased my daily gardening chores to make time.

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