There's so much more to a great yard than just mowing the lawn.

Yard Care Tasks for June

Looks like it’s time to get out in the yard again! After an exceptionally cool and rainy May, it seems like the weather is going to turn nicer as we head into June. Here’s what I’d recommend for this month:

Make sure you mow regularly for the next few weeks.

There’s often a 3-4 week period when the weather is ideal for Kentucky bluegrass to grow incredibly quickly because the weather conditions are optimal for its growth. My hunch is that period is just starting. That means you’ll want to mow at least once, but preferable twice per week.

Grass Clippings

Try to mow often enough that your grass clippings are less than one inch long

If you let the grass get too long before you mow, it shocks the root system for a few days. You can read more about the best mowing practices here that will ensure your lawn’s roots stay healthy and strong. Also, I wrote a post that talks about the benefits of mowing frequently in spring.

Where there has been water, there will be weeds.

Any time we get a lot of rain, the weeds are in heaven. Because of the extra moisture, many of the weed seeds close to the soil surface will germinate and grow rapidly before conditions dry out. They remind me of flocks of teenagers swarming to the coolest party.

The key to managing the oncoming flush of weeds is to address them early before they become a major problem. That means hand pulling, string trimming and spot spraying existing weeds. In rock or gravel areas where you think weeds could grow but haven’t started yet, it still may be worthwhile to put down a weed preventer as well.

Get planting once the soil dries out.

Since it was too wet to plant in May, many people were not able to get any plants in the ground. In many locations, the soil is still too soggy. If you plant when the soil is too wet, you risk compacting the soil. New plants have a hard time growing a new root system in compacted soil.

In addition, if you put a plant in a hole with standing water, the roots cannot get enough oxygen to support the plant. They often turn yellow and languish. Therefore, it’s important to make sure the soil is moist but not drenched before you plant.

If you need to wait a while to let the soil drain, keep in mind it’s still a good time to plant in pots and containers since the potting soil is engineered to drain quickly. By the time your containers are done, it’s likely your garden soil will be dry enough to plant.

On the other hand, if your soil is drained at this point, it’s a great time to plant. Here a description of the planting method I use.

Let hail damaged plants recover before deciding if they’re dead.

I’ve experienced six hail storms at my house this spring. Unbelievable. It knocked many of the leaves off my trees and shrubs. Some plants were hit by a hard freeze just as their new leaves were emerging. Here’s an article I wrote on dealing with hail damage in the landscape.

In addition, the cool weather has delayed many plants’ growth and delayed their recovery. Because the hail, frost and cold weather delayed growth, it’s still worth waiting a few weeks to see if your plants will recover. I’m often pleasantly surprised by the resilience of vines, trees and shrubs. Just when you think they’re about to kick the bucket a few green leaves appear.

Enjoy the transition to summer. It will be here before you know it. Also, the mom in me can’t resist ending on a final reminder to not wait too long to address any weeds that pop up. Don’t put this one off!




6 Responses to Yard Care Tasks for June

  1. Don Riedel June 1, 2015 at 8:30 am #

    Can I prune my maple tree now or is it advisable to do it at another time?

    • Catherine June 3, 2015 at 10:07 pm #

      Hi Don, it depends on how far along your maple is in its spring growth. Most arborists recommend either pruning before the leaves come out in spring, or waiting until after it’s put on its flush of growth for the year. That usually means mid-summer.

      In a normal year, it would probably be okay to prune your maple now, but most of the maples in my area haven’t finished their spring flush of growth. It might be wise to wait a few weeks if your maple is still growing rapidly since the bark is prone to ripping and tearing during the big growth flush. Ripped and torn bark can cause wounds that don’t seal up rapidly, which could allow decay organisms to enter the tree and weaken it.

      Once the growth of the branches slows down, the bark is much less prone to damage. You can tell when the growth is slowing because the leaves on the tips of the branches will be full sized rather than smaller than the others. Branches that are actively growing have leaves at the tips that are small, then expand to full size as the branch reaches its full size for the year. Hope that helps!

  2. Luke Vesely June 1, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    Hi Catherine, wasn’t able to comment on the “Planting Method” page, so I’ll ask here: What is your method for checking the proper soil moisture of your plants? I just planted a bunch of xeriscape plants this weekend (soil seemed to be well drained), but I’m always wondering how to make sure I don’t over/under water them. Thanks as always!

    • Catherine June 3, 2015 at 9:58 pm #

      Hi Luke, that’s a great question. I use a combination of watching the plants and checking out the soil. As far as watching the plants, the first sign of drought stress is drooping leaves. Any plant with drooping leaves need to be watered, of course. Plants that are overwatered look good for a week or so, then the leaves start to turn yellow all over the plant. If the soil is moist and the leaves are still drooping, it’s probably due to hot weather causing the plant to transpire a lot of water and the small root system can’t keep up with the demand. Putting some sort of shade cover over the transplant usually helps in that situation.

      Now for checking the soil: An ideal soil moisture for newly planted plants is moist but not soggy. To check this, I moved back the gravel or mulch from the soil surface very close to the main stem and stick my finger in the soil. If the soil feels dry (and appears light colored) two or more inches from the surface, I water. If the soil is moist or soggy, then I wait. The smaller the plant, the more often I check, since they’re more prone to drying out with more of their root ball being towards the soil surface. Hope you’re planting is successful! Keep me posted on how it’s going.

      • Luke Vesely June 5, 2015 at 9:52 am #

        Great advice Catherine. That helped a lot. One last question–I scoured your excellent Mulch Guide–highly recommended!–but was wondering if I should hold of on mulching around my new plants with all these rain storms to let the soil dry out a bit, and then lay the mulch down?

        • Catherine June 5, 2015 at 8:46 pm #

          Glad the mulch guide was helpful. I think you have a great idea to wait until the rains pass and then mulch. In many high rainfall areas of the US, mulching is not recommended since it retains too much moisture in the soil. In Colorado, we normally have the opposite problem of the soil drying out too fast. Therefore, mulching is a standard landscaping practice. However, this spring is highly unusual. In my area, we’ve received more rain this spring than we normally do all year. My opinion is that you’re very wise to wait until we reach a dry period. Smart thinking. 🙂

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