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Over the Garden Fence

Enjoying the home landscape

So many good things have happened in the home landscape this year so far. The earlier cool and drier weather let our perennials and shrubs put on the growth that has not happened in our hot dry springs. Along with that has been the way better than average bloom show. There has been a lot to enjoy when out on the patio or deck and even when working the beds, getting to see the detail of fresh foliage, flower buds and bloom

Keeping up

Now is not the time to let down our “guard” so to speak when it comes to keeping the beds looking good for the rest of the growing season. Between the rains we have had and the needed watering, weeds seeds have sprouted and should be dealt with while very young and easily controlled, annual and perennial weeds alike. Just disturbing those seedlings with your favorite weeder is enough without actually having to remove them from the beds. Loosening the garden bed soil will benefit the plants the next time you water or we have a rain, more water makes it into the soil profile.

Keeping the lawn and beds separated will have that bed line looking good. Our lawn grasses can creep about 3-4 inches a year, so that spring edging by now has been challenged.  Opening up the bed again will make mowing easier too. If the bed lines have really been lost, think of how you mow and create or modify to make those curved lines and the mower work together so there is less hand trimming. You should follow through with the same thought for the trees in the yard too. More damage by string trimmers occurs than the typical feeding of rabbits, voles and field mice every year! Grass right up to the trunk also affords easy access all winter long for our furry little friends. 

The other half of the season

As we are hitting the end of July and heading into August, there are some things we can do to ensure our beds continue to look good. About now petunias can be looking stringy with open centers. Cutting them back will get us new growth again and more flowers. Perennials that flowered and set seed, can be dead headed to direct that energy back into the plant for next year.

In the vegetable garden side dressing the pepper plants can get them to push out some new growth and that is followed by flowers for season long pepper production.


Always an ongoing topic, yet this time one good point share. The mower blade is no longer sharp, and mowing is going to go on until cold weather. If by chance you own two blades, it is time to swap them out. No second blade, then after the next mowing do not quit until that blade is in hand so you can drop it off first thing for sharpening, so you are ready to go in a week!

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About the author: Richard Hentschel’s expertise extends across several subject areas with specialties in lawn care, fruit tree production, woody ornamentals, and home and community gardening. During his 45-year career in horticulture and agriculture, Hentschel became a well-known and respected expert for commercial and homeowner audiences, industry organizations, and media. He retired from University of Illinois Extension in April 2022 with nearly 30 years of service as a Horticulture Specialist and Educator in northern Illinois.