Perk things up when days are at their hottest with these simple summer fixes

We’d be crazy to complain about summer in the Midwest, especially after a particularly long and snowy winter. But when one scorcher turns into three turns into 12 consecutive scorchers, the weather can begin to take a toll on our yards and gardens. Follow these simple summer fix steps to get your yard back into shape this summer!

Lawn can take on a grayish cast (or even turn slightly brown), stressed perennials begin to look lackluster and our containers and hanging baskets can go from perky to droopy in a matter of an afternoon.

But in the heat of the moment, there are some steps we can take to freshen up and give things a summer glow. Let’s get to it.

1. Plant up your bare spots

Some of your earliest spring annuals may not hold up well under increasing sun and heat. Simply remove any dead flowers and determine what needs to be filled in. Turns out there are annuals that are perfect for the hottest spots in your yard. These annuals actually thrive in the full sun, both in your landscape and in containers. Learn more about 5 of our favorites.

And while we’re at it, here’s a list of easy-going, drought tolerant annuals that are water wise and refreshingly low maintenance, as fillers or in a summer container of their own:

  • Solcito Zinnia
  • Purple Knight & Royal Tapestry Alternanthera
  • Dakota Gold Helenium
  • Silver Mist Helichrysum
  • Dragon Wing Begonia
  • Serena Angelonia
  • Landmark Lantana
  • Mystic Spires Blue Salvia
  • Succulents of all kinds

Too much work? Come in for a Porch Pot, fiber pots that are planted with seasonal combos especially for summer (and every season). Drop them right into your containers for no-mess style.

And yours can be ready for you two or four times a year (we’ll call or email) with the Porch Pot Membership. Each season will be planted with combinations especially suited for the weather, shade/sun and different colors, textures and styles.

2. Add a layer of mulch

We love this one because it actually carries two benefits in one. First, a fresh layer of mulch can level out mulch beds that have seen their fair share of rain or foot traffic, give beds a uniform continuous color and make them look great from the curb or as people approach.

Second, mulch seals in vital moisture and seals out weeks. Plus, quality organic mulch actually adds vital nutrients to the soil as it breaks down.

3. Give your grill a little love

So maybe the last thing you’re thinking about is a hot grill, but you definitely don’t want to be cooking inside. If your grill has seen better days, we discovered a great, natural tip: brew a full pot of coffee and pour it into a large basin or utility tub. Soak your grill grates for about an hour, give a quick scrub, then rinse with warm water. Good as new!

4. Raise your mower

Longer grass blades will shade your lawn and keep it healthy. So raise the deck on your mower to a 3-3-½ inch height. You should only be taking off 1/3 of the grass blade each time you mow. Edging will keep your lawn looking sharp, but try not to do it every time you mow. Because the edges are so exposed to the heat, they’ll be the first areas to become dry and brittle.

5. Summer feeding

If you follow an annual fertilization program, there will be a July application. This pre-emptive summer feeding is especially important in light of the summer heat and drought conditions we’ve experienced in the last several years. This feeding will help your lawn build up healthy reserves to get it through summer looking its best.

6. Just add water

Your lawn needs an average of ½ to 1 inch of water per week. You can buy a rain gauge or make one of your own, but watch your lawn for some telltale signs its low on moisture. If it takes on a dull grayish cast or doesn’t pop back up after you walk through, it’s definitely in need of a good soak.

It’s important you give your grass a good thorough watering, rather than short, frequent bursts. By watering well, you encourage your grass plants to grow deep roots that can access water and hold up to the heat.

Containers and hanging baskets can dry out quickly, so check them for water once a day if possible. Aside from succulent containers, you don’t want most container plants to dry out completely between waterings. You can add in a water-soluble fertilizer every 1-2 weeks when you water for even better results.

For newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials, check out our Guide to Planting, which includes tips on when to water, fertilize and prune.