Get ready for the holidays Part I. If you’re planning to have company for an outdoor activity this week, make sure people know where they can or can’t go in your landscape. Make paths visible with fresh mulch. Police tape is a little excessive, but ribbon or rope draped between posts will guide people away from newly planted beds. Mow and then mulch a meandering path around and through the weed patch so it looks like an intentional wildflower planting. Mulch or woodchip high-foot-traffic areas to avoid mud in case it rains. Think about your garden before you play with sparklers and fireworks; nothing says Fourth of July quite like setting fire to your ornamental grasses.
Get ready for the holidays Part II. If, on the other hand, you’re going away for more than a few days, line stuff up before you leave. Water well if it hasn’t rained, then mulch; arrange for someone else to water if needed in your absence, and to pick ripe produce and deadhead flowers. Mow the lawn so you don’t get depressed when you return; if you’re going away for more than a week, have somebody mow the lawn so it doesn’t advertise that you’re away. Plant something from seed, so you have new babies coming up to surprise you when you get home.
Get ready for the holidays Part III. Know that Fourth of July is a time to celebrate Last Times: Last time to plant tomatoes and peppers; last time to cut back chrysanthemums; last time to safely plant trees, shrubs and perennials before the real summer heat hits; last time to enjoy the roses pre-japanese beetle; and the last time to sit outside happily without being eaten alive by mosquitoes.
Sally McCabe is associate director of community education at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (phsonline.org) and a co-owner of Cobblestone Krautery (www.cobblestonekrautery.com).