Marianne Binetti

Marianne Binetti: June is a busy, busy month for gardeners

For instant gardening gratification, buy vegetable starts in pots ready to be transplanted to a sunny garden area.
For instant gardening gratification, buy vegetable starts in pots ready to be transplanted to a sunny garden area. Shutterstock

There is still plenty of time to buy tomato plants and to start vegetables from seed including beans and squash. For instant gratification buy vegetable starts already planted in pots and ready to transplant to a sunny spot in the garden.

June is the month when your lawn grows quickly so you may need to make a cut every four to five days so that you are removing only the top one third of the grass blades.

This is a good time to divide up early flowering perennials such as heucheras, primroses and pulmunaria once they are done flowering.

Q. I bought three cucumber plants in May and two have turned pale and yellow and look like they are ready to die. One growing close to the house gets partial shade and is green and healthy. I thought cucumbers like full sun. I have watered and fertilized the three plants the same way. Please explain. — B.H., Renton

A. My best guess about the failure to thrive cucumber plants is that they were hit by some of the cool nights we had in late May and early June. The cucumber plant nearest the house would have been better protected. Cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and basil all love full sun, but will be stunted and turn yellow if you set them out too early into an open area of the garden. Celebrate your successful cucumber plant and bury your mistakes.

Q. How do I get rid of brown bare spots in my lawn quickly? We have a big event planned in our garden. — L.R. Tacoma

A. The best way to quickly piece together a better lawn is to remove chunks of sod from the edges of your lawn and make your beds or borders wider. Then you can use the sod sections to fill in the bare spots in the middle of the lawn. First you will need to dig into the dead areas and remove the old brown sod and see if you can determine if hard-packed soil or a boulder beneath the surface caused the old lawn to die off.

If dog urine is to blame, flood the soil with water before you piece in the new section of sod. Firm the new sod in so that it is at the same level as the rest of the lawn and spot water daily until new roots grow.

Q. I have a boxwood hedge and also a row of arborvitae that could use some trimming. What is the best time of year to prune these evergreen shrubs? — P.L. , Auburn

A. June is a good month to trim hedges in Western Washington but do not go shear crazy or get too snippy on a hot and sunny day. You will be exposing the tender green growth beneath the cut branches to direct sun and they have not had a chance to build up a tan. Pick a cloudy day or after sunset to prune a hedge.

Perfectionist pruners can trim boxwoods and other evergreens twice a year — once in early June and again in late summer or early September.

One trim in early summer is good enough for most hedges.

Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. Reach her at binettigarden.com.

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