Tips that could help turn your backyard desert into an oasis

Between dry spells, 100-degree temperatures, and summer storms that tear up trees and flatten flowers, your garden is probably looking a little worse for wear.  If you’ve noticed any of these warning signs, please contact us immediately for garden resuscitation*:

  1. Tumble weeds are rolling through your yard (unless you live in the desert, then it’s perfectly normal).
  2. You hear a snap, crackle and pop when you walk through your grass and it’s not because you’re eating a bowl of Rice Krispies.
  3. You get the strange feeling that nearby wildlife might be planning an uprising that involves overtaking your bathtub for a pool party (the squirrels try to “act natural” but you can tell they are casing the joint.)

Luckily, The Dawes Arboretum can send you a life line.  We just happen to have expert staff that the community affectionately refers to as the Titans of Trees, the Plant People, the Heroes of Horticulture (alright, no one actually calls them that, but it’s catchy, right?).  Use these tips to make your garden flourish during this temperamental summer, while remaining environmentally friendly.

Though the devastating storm on June 29th caused some serious damage, you can look at it in a new light by considering how the debris can be put to use.  The fallen branches, limbs and dead wood can be chipped and used as mulch for plant beds and around trees and shrubs.  Mulch helps retain moisture and suppresses weed growth—meaning less time plucking stubborn weeds, and more time enjoying your landscape with a cool drink in hand.  From a design aspect, wood chips also make nice natural-looking garden pathways.  We’ve also noticed happier wildlife when there is a nicely redecorated yard for them to hang out in.**

When summer does grace us with a gentle burst of rain, take full advantage of it.  Rain barrels are a Green solution to the dry weeks, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency (, a rain barrel can save a homeowner about 1,300 gallons of water during the summer months.  A rain barrel collects rainwater from your roof using a downspout and stores it for a not-so-rainy day.  The collected rainwater is ideal for watering gardens or even washing your car.  Plus, the birds will be much less likely to fly in an open window and hide until morning when they surprise you in the shower.***

Follow these tips and your garden will be green in more ways than one.  There are plenty of other tricks to help your garden beat the summer heat, just stop in at The Dawes Arboretum and discuss your questions with the Heroes of Horticulture (catching on yet?).

*The Dawes Arboretum cannot technically perform CPR on your yard.  That would just be awkward for everyone.

**Not guaranteed that landscaping improves the mood of wildlife.  This statement is purely speculation.

***We’re required to note that the chances of this happening are relatively slim.  Still… it’s better to be safe by keeping those bird baths full using your new rain barrel.