Contributed by: Pamela Olshefski, Curatorial Assistant at Morris Arboretum

Spring is coming to a close with its pastel hues and loads of rain. As we shift into the warm summer months, the heat kicks up, the days lengthen and we see less rain. Managing the garden through these months by keeping up on all the weeding and watering can seem a bit overwhelming.

Organizing your tasks by month helps maximize your efforts. While weeding and watering are always a focus of the summer season, this to-do list will help you prioritize your garden chores and keep your garden looking great.   



  • Weeding, weeding and more weeding. Not only do weeds detract from the beauty of the garden, they rob your plants of valuable nutrients, light and water.
  • Your garden requires an inch of rain per week, so be sure to check your rain gauge (pick one up if you don’t have one) and soak to the root zone when you need to water.
  • Make sure to dead head bulbs and perennials who need a haircut for some fresh growth.
  • Now is the time to plant dahlias and cannas, and to begin staking your annual vines with twine, wire or even a trellis.
  • Now is the time to prune spring flowering shrubs such as lilacs after they have flowered. Pruning out dead or diseased wood from trees is also a good thing to do in June when things have leafed out.
  • Edging your beds and keeping them trimmed adds a finished look to your garden beds.


  • When daylilies and Siberian irises have finished blooming this month you can trim them back and divide them. Water them in well and keep them watered to easily put on growth before fall.
  • Observe while weeding. As you make your weekly pass through the garden, make note of what looks good and what is not doing so well. There is still time to rework an existing bed or plan for a new one.
  • Trees both young and old are especially susceptible to drought. Very old and newly planted trees should be kept well-watered. Be sure to soak them to the roots when you water!
  • Japanese beetles can be a real problem. In the morning and evening you can use a spray them with soapy water and also hand pick them off the plants. You will never eliminate them, but you can help to manage them and the damage they do to your plants.


  • Weeding and editing the garden is still a common theme through the end of the summer.
  • Deadheading perennials will keep things looking clean and will encourage rebloom in some cases. Spring flowering perennials can also be cut and divided this month.
  • Watering the garden is still very Be sure to water thoroughly and deeply. This is also true also for containers and hanging baskets. Watch for water coming from the bottom of the pot. Then you know you have watered enough.
  • Peonies are best divided in late August since they put out such quick growth in the spring. When you replant them, make sure the ‘eyes’ are buried beneath the soil surface by about an inch, and water them in well.
  • Order your flower bulbs for fall planting now! Early orders ensure better selection.
  • Summer blooming shrubs can be pruned for shape once they are finished flowering. Remove any dead or diseased branches at this time too.


  • Weeding through the fall can really give you a jump start on the weeds for next year, and minimize your spring cleanup.
  • Keep in mind which perennials, biennials and annuals you would like collect seed from (such as nicotiana, annual poppies and clary sage), but leave bird-loving seed heads up as long as possible, like coneflower, liatris and grasses. The birds will thank you!
  • A light top dressing of mulch put down now will help suppress weeds next spring.
  • Keep trees and shrubs well-watered through September so that they will enter winter dormancy well-hydrated.
  • Last but not least, complement yourself on how wonderful your garden looked this summer and enjoy the just emerging colors of fall!