It's almost June, which means it's time to get your...

It's almost June, which means it's time to get your backyard photo-ready. Credit: Dreamstime

It’s June, time for graduations, proms and backyard barbecues! And that means getting the garden photo-ready. Fix bare spots in the lawn and ensure your plants bloom their best, because they’ll likely be immortalized in celluloid, or at least in the cloud. Here are 30 chores and tips to keep the garden pretty — and healthy — every day of the month.

1. Cut chrysanthemums, Joe Pye weed and Heliopsis back by one-third now, and they grow stockier and bloom better later.

2. Hurry, before it’s too late! Plant tomatoes and join the 2018 Great LI Tomato Challenge. Send photos, tips, your name and town to for possible publication.

3. Deadhead spring-blooming shrubs like rhododendrons and lilacs after the flowers have completely faded.

4. It’s finally time to apply mulch. Keep it 2 to 3 inches deep, and ensure it’s pushed away from plant stems and tree trunks to avoid rot.

5. Monitor potted plants closely and water as needed; their soil will dry out much more quickly than if they were in the ground.

6. When spring bloomers fade away, replace with summer annuals.

7. Plant dahlias and set 4-foot stakes an inch away from bud-bearing roots. Secure as they grow.

8. Keep birdbaths clean to avoid bacterial (and mosquito) growth.

9. Remove wilted and yellowed leaves from bearded irises to thwart iris borer infestations.

10. Fasten rambling and climbing roses to supports.

11. Fight mildew with spray applications of one tablespoon each of baking soda and ultrafine horticultural oil diluted in a gallon of water.

12. Clematis like having cold feet: Shade their roots by planting low-growing perennials at their base.

13. To keep houseplants at their best, fertilize at half strength with every other watering.

14. Protect strawberries from birds and critters with netting or floating row covers.

15. Set your sundial at exactly noon today for accurate timekeeping all summer (just set the gnomon to face north; there will be no shadow).

16. Prevent mosquitoes from breeding by emptying trash can lids, gutters, pot saucers, spare tires, etc., after rainfall; Use a sticky lint roller to remove ticks from clothing after exposure.

17. Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads out there! No mowing today.

18. Mound up soil around potato plants when exposed stems reach 6 inches tall.

19. Celebrate Juneteenth! Bake a pie with fresh-picked strawberries from the garden (or farmstand).

20. Cut back chrysanthemums, Joe Pye weed and Heliopsis by another third. (See June 1 chore.)

21. It’s the first day of summer! No better way to celebrate than by pulling weeds. (OK, there are lots of better ways, but it needs to be done.)

22. To increase tomato production, remove suckers that grow in the crotch between the main branch and stems.

23. Thin carrot seedlings to an inch apart, and again when their leaves touch, to 3 inches apart, to allow space for underground growth.

24. Snake soaker hoses through perennial and vegetable gardens to provide water directly to roots.

25. Fertilize spring-flowering bulbs and peonies as long as flowers have faded.

26. Want free lettuce? Harvest all but one of your plants, and let the remaining one bolt. Take its seeds for planting next year.

27. Pick Japanese beetles by hand and dispose of them in a bucket of soapy water.

28. Inspect trees and shrubs for scale insects. If pesticides are needed, avoid using hose-end sprayers; they don’t dissolve, mix or apply evenly.

29. Use only low-nitrogen fertilizer on vegetables or annuals, or you could end up with large, bloomless plants. Slow-release, organic is best.

30. For the tastiest herbs, harvest around 10 a.m., just after the dew has dried but before the sun is at its strongest.


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