Easy Summer Garden Ideas
Summer is a great time to get outside and get your hands dirty. If you have been thinking about a new project for your yard, check out these three easy summer garden ideas to get inspired.
1. Plant a salsa garden.
Most fruits and vegetables are better off planted in spring or fall, but there are several that grow quite well in summer. This includes tomatoes, peppers, onions, and cilantro, which makes this a great time to plant a salsa garden.
While you can start from seeds, getting them through germination and to maturity will take too long to allow you to enjoy fresh salsa from your garden this summer. To harvest and make your own salsa much sooner, start with plants from your local nursery. For the soonest harvest, buy more mature plants in larger containers.
You can plant tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, and onions in containers, in the ground or in raised garden beds. You can even plant them in a border along your fence or almost anywhere you have room. Keep in mind that most tomato plants you will find at a nursery are indeterminate, which means they are vining and need to be supported and managed with a cage or trellis.
Transplanting your cilantro and pepper plants is pretty straight forward. Take them out of their current container, loosen the root ball, and place them in a hole about the size of their original container and at the same depth.
Your tomatoes are a little different. For these, remove the first set of leaves lowest on the stem, and plant them deep enough to cover the stem up to the second set of leaves. This is going to seem strange, since it will feel like you are planting them belowground, but the plant will form roots off the lower stem, and you will end up with a healthier, more productive plant.
You can grow all of this in a fairly small space. For example, in a 5×5 bed, you can plant two tomato plants, two pepper plants, two cilantro plants, and then onions around the border.
Choose a spot that receives six to eight hours of sun per day. You will need to water your new summer garden at least every other day while they are settling in and getting established. Once established, you will likely be able to water twice a week, but you may need to water more often in times of drought or extreme heat. Alternatively, you can install a drip irrigation system to handle the watering for you. For the soil, a mix of potting soil and compost is best.
2. Plant a succulent garden.
If you are looking for summer garden ideas that add instant beauty but do not require a lot of maintenance, succulents might be a perfect choice. You can purchase them in a variety of sizes starting at tiny pots that are only about one-inch wide up to large plants that can quickly fill a border or garden bed.
While we think of succulents as desert plants that can withstand extreme heat and drought, most of them do need some sun protection and will need to be watered regularly.
Ideally, choose a spot that receives morning sun but has some shade later in the day to protect your plants from the harsher afternoon sun. Once you have picked your spot, mix in some cactus and succulent mix to improve the drainage of your current soil. Succulents require good drainage, so do not skip this step. If you are planting in containers, make sure there are drainage holes and consider adding some gravel at the bottom of the pot to enhance drainage even more.
You can plant individual succulents, create a colorful display in a garden bed, or make an arrangement in a container with varied colors and textures. Keep in mind that succulents do grow, and some grow pretty quickly, so if you make a cute, tabletop arrangement with small succulents, expect to start transplanting them to larger pots or beds in a few months.
If you plant in borders, raised beds, or in the ground, you can probably water about once per week as they are getting established and during the hottest months of summer. After that, you should be able to water every 10 to 14 days. If you create a container garden filled with succulents, you will need to water more often.
If you do opt for containers for your succulents, consider mixing in varieties that will spill over the sides, such as string of pearls. Also keep in mind that another fun thing about choosing succulents is that you can easily propagate them by taking cuttings, allowing them to dry for a few days, and planting them in well-draining soil.
3. Plant an edible border.
In Southern California, we are fortunate to have a climate that allows us to enjoy beautiful blooms and growing our own food any time of the year. Of course, certain things do better when planted at certain times, but there are lots of options that will do just fine when planted in summer. To combine having a beautiful border and growing food plants, consider planting an edible border for your summer garden project.
For this, you will want to choose attractive plants in a variety of colors. Since you are planting in summer, your options will be a bit more limited, but there are still plenty from which to choose. Kale, collard greens, and cauliflower are attractive choices that offer some nice variety in color and texture and do well in summer. Something that is particularly fun about these options is that you are not stuck with just green plants; cauliflower also comes in purple, yellow, and white, and kale comes in light green, dark green, magenta, pink, purple, and even a bluish-white color.
If your border is already filled with soil, mix in some compost, add your plants, and top-dress the border with mulch to improve moisture retention. If you do not install a drip irrigation system, you will need to water every other day to help them get established. Once established, you will usually be able to water twice a week, although you will need to water more often during the hottest weeks.
You can expand your summer garden even more with cucumbers, celery, eggplant, peas, or beans, but these summer-loving plants might not be quite as attractive for your edible border. You might prefer putting these in raised garden beds in a designated food garden. However, if you are open to edible borders that are a bit unconventional, these are options you could try.