Summer is great but it can pose some challenges. Here are 10 tips to keep your outdoor life in balance this July. 

Nothing is more frustrating than spending your free time trying to cultivate a healthy garden, only to have it overrun with underground pests. In this article we discuss what to do about moles.

Do you ever think, "The shorter I cut the grass, the less I need to mow."?
Not true! For the best quality turf, only remove one-third of the grass blade with each mow. Shorter clippings break down more easily, allowing some of the natural nitrogen to return to the soil. If you cut too much at one time, the long clippings can cause stress on the grass, inhibiting healthy growth.

Have you heard that you should keep a consistent mowing pattern?
The truth is that it's easy to fall into a mowing routine, but frequently cutting grass in the same direction can mat down the turf and inhibit growth. By varying your mowing pattern, you will reduce strain on the turf and encourage a healthier, more beautiful lawn.

Summer's finally here, which means we as gardeners are either worried about our plants drying out, or getting oversaturated from the plentiful rain.
There's no question that we experience a fair amount of rain during the summer months in Western North Carolina, and we have seen recent flooding. We've got gardening tips on the best practices for your garden this summer. 

Garden Care
If it doesn’t rain, water new seeds and transplants daily until established. Water mature plants as needed. Frequency will depend on rainfall and temperature. Check the soil for moisture, and watch plants for symptoms of drought stress (leaves drooping in the morning or early evening). Soil in the vegetable garden should be kept moist but not muddy. Knowing the type of soil in your garden will help you determine how frequently it should be watered. A soil that is heavy with lots of clay will need to be watered less frequently than a soil that is lighter with lots of air pockets, such as a sandy soil or container garden soil.

Fertilize only as needed following the recommendations on your soil analysis. Crops with long growing seasons, such as corn and tomatoes, may need additional fertilizer partway through the growing season. Watch for symptoms of nitrogen and other nutrient deficiency (including leaves turning yellow and slow growth). Avoid the urge to overfertilize, which can produce lush plant growth but decrease flowering and fruit development and increase pest problems.

Mulch to maintain moisture and manage weeds. One to two inches of weed-free loose mulch (including shredded leaves, grass clippings (seed-free), wheat straw, and pine bark mulch) or five to six layers of newspaper should be enough to keep weeds down and the soil moist.

Caring for roses can be tricky! Here are a few tips to help you out:
In summer remove old flowers and prune just above a five or seven leaf branch. This will encourage your bush to fill in and spread out. When you are cleaning up rose bushes, always look for a few things:

Crossing Branches – Rose bushes like air, they don’t do well with dense foliage. Look for crossing branches and make small diagonal snips to prevent branches from crossing and rubbing.

Damaged Stems – If you happen to find any damaged stems make a diagonal cut just below the damaged stem. Removing damaged stems will allow the rose bushes to have new growth creating a stronger and healthier rose bush.

Disease – Watch for any fungus or insect problems on your roses. Black spot and beatles are common problems for rose bushes.

If you happen to find black spot, cut it away from the plant, disinfect your pruners and throw the disease into a closed trash can.
Roses make a wonderful addition to our gardens but require a moderate amount of attention.