Finding Joy in the Garden in Summer
This is a tough topic for me: Let’s talk about finding joy in the garden in summer. Heat, pest invasions, mosquitoes, weeds….yeah, summer can be a bit stressful for gardeners. Here are some tips and thoughts about how to love your garden even in the worst conditions of summertime.
Confession: I HATE summer. It’s my least favorite season of the year, so it was a bit of shock for some of my friends and family when I moved to South Carolina (aka zone 8, aka a warmer climate). (By the way, check out my post about finding joy in the garden in winter if you’re not a big fan of winter.)
What don’t I love about summer? I overheat very easily, so the HEAT from summer is the worst. Also, I’m one of those people that attract massive swarms of mosquitoes, which has left my legs looking like massive patches of polka dot scars. Yippy.
One of the most agonizing things for me, as a gardener, is combining heat and mosquitoes. I THRIVE in my garden. I NEED to be in my garden for at least a few minutes every day. But in the summer? When it’s over 90 degrees Fahreinheit and muggy and buggy, I choose to simply look longingly at my garden through a window and feel intense misery.
Honestly, the garden loses its’ sense of peace for me when it is summer. Even when it’s cool enough to be out there briefly, there are pest problems and weeds all over the place.
It gets pretty difficult to relax and find my serenity while wiping dirty sweat from my face, slapping mosquitoes on my arms, panicking over invading pests, and freaking out about the winning weeds.
In past summers, I simply pace the house and curse the summer season. I sulk BIG time and complain to anyone who is around.
However, I realize that this is not the right way to live. My goal in life is to find JOY and choose JOY. I know that my opinions on summer need to change. I doubt that I will ever be fond of summer, but I need to at least figure out how to find ways to be happy and joyful in summer.
So I’ve created this list of ways for finding joy in the garden in summer. If you’ve ever been grumpy and/or discouraged by what your garden is like in the summer, I hope this post helps you out!
This is part of my Seasonal Joy in the Garden Series. Make sure to check out my tips on How to Find Joy in Your Garden in the Winter and How to Find Joy in the Garden in Fall: Dealing with Harvest Overwhelm.
Finding Joy in the Garden in Summer
I’ve gathered together tips for the four worst things about summer: heat, mosquitoes, pest invasions, and weeds. I then added MORE random tips for various ways to help with finding joy in the garden in summer. Enjoy!
1. Finding Joy with the Heat and Sun
Whether you’ve got a humid heat or a dry heat, when you get hit with really hot temperatures, it can really suck the joy out of gardening. However, it’s important to spend time in your garden daily, not only for keeping up with the garden “chores”, but also for some self-care and peace/enjoyment of nature.
Here are my top tips for finding joy with the heat and sun:
Go in your garden in the morning or evening to avoid the worst of the heat.
If you are a morning person, I envy you. Morning is the perfect time to be in the garden. The coolness from the night is still clinging to the air, and the mosquitoes and bugs aren’t usually as prevalent.
Tragically, despite reading lots of articles with tips on ‘how to become a morning person’, I remain…not…a morning person. So mornings in the garden don’t work for me (yet). Also, many of you work and/or have kids to send off to school/etc., so mornings might not work for your schedule.
Evenings are also okay in the garden. The intensity of the summer sun has died down, leaving the pretty glow of a summer sunset. I find spending time in the garden in the evenings quite relaxing. It is a great way to unwind after a hectic day.
The problem is the mosquitoes can be pretty bad in the evenings. I’ll talk more about beating that issue below.
Spending time in your garden in the morning and/or evenings can really help you still enjoy your garden in the summer. Another way to enjoy the garden even with the heat is to just go to the garden for 5-10 minutes at a time. This is something that I do now: on my lunch break, I will walk through my garden and pick a weed here and there and just observe the garden’s health. Then, 2 hours later, I will go out again and just walk the garden and do a few little chores. All throughout the day, I enjoy very delightful but brief moments in my summer garden.
Take plenty of breaks in the garden, and bring cooling beverages with you to the garden.
In the other seasons, I love being in my garden so much, that I’ll start doing my garden chores, and, hours later, my husband will come find me to tell me it’s dinner time. I always lose track of time in the garden. Time just flies by when I’m in my beloved sacred space.
However, since I overheat very easily, I have to constantly remind myself to take plenty of breaks when I garden in the summer heat. Lots of breaks. Sometimes, I hardly even get one garden bed weeded. And I’ve taken 10 breaks while doing it.
I have learned that I need to stop comparing myself to what I think other gardeners/people can do. I am not “weak” or “bad at gardening” if I can only do a little bit every day. The goal is to spend time in the garden every day. With that goal in mind, I am learning to let go of comparisons and listen more to my body, and do what works for me. It’s a hard lesson to learn, and I’m sure I’ll be working hard at this for the rest of my life.
Also, I find that making beverages to bring to my garden helps encourage me to take more breaks. I love making my lemon balm lemonade recipe and bringing it out to my garden in a covered cup. It makes me beam in pride that I’m enjoying the fruits of my garden while in my garden. I also love to infuse water with mint leaves and/or cucumber slices, also from my garden.
So slow down a bit this summer, and take lots of breaks in your garden, while sipping some lemonade, iced tea, or infused water. It’s a great way to practice slowing down and do some self-care in a very hectic modern world.
Learn to appreciate how the heat makes your plants happy.
Okay, so I might not like the heat of summer, but you know what does? My garden plants. I couldn’t grow happy and healthy tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes, and other veggies and fruits without the heat.
Without the heat and the summer sun, I couldn’t enjoy my favorite salsa recipe. Without the heat, there would be no tasty corn-on-the-cob. There would be no baskets loaded with the summer’s harvest of sweet potatoes.
There is always an optimistic way to look at things in life. There are benefits to the heat in my garden, and I just have to remind myself to look for those positive perspectives instead of dwelling on the negative stuff.
2. Finding Joy Despite the Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are the WORST, and since they love me so much, I get bit by them a lot. It’s hard to think of ways to find joy despite mosquitoes, but here some of my tips:
Make your garden as mosquito-repellent as possible.
Here are some ways you can make your garden have less mosquitoes (I’m not gonna lie and say it will get rid of them all):
- Plant pest-repelling plants that mosquitoes hate. Mosquitoes do not like strongly-scented plants, including: basil, bee balm, catnip, lavender, lemon balm, lemon grass, mint, rosemary, etc.
- Encourage more birds and bats to your garden. Bird houses, bird baths, bird feeders, and bat houses will help encourage mosquito-eating creatures to your garden.
- Remove any possible standing water areas. Garden containers and pots that are left out in the rain can encourage new batches of mosquitoes. After it rains, go around your yard and garden and look for standing water problems and fix them ASAP.
- Encourage toads and lizards to live in your garden. I take old garden containers and flip them on their sides and leave them in corners of my garden with tall plants nearby to encourage a shady protective area for toads and lizards. They help keep mosquitoes (and other pests) at lower levels.
Make a homemade bug spray.
I’m in the midst of making a homemade bug spray, but until I’ve tried it a bunch and made sure it works, I won’t be sharing it with you. It’s gotta be perfect for you! UPDATE: Here’s my homemade mosquito repellent spray recipe! It works great!
I would say to buy bug spray, but you can find SO MUCH information online about how bad those chemicals are for you, your family, and your yard/garden. I’m trying to grow organic healthy food, and I have no interest in spraying myself and possibly getting backsplash on my plants in the form of chemical junk. Blegh.
Here are a few natural homemade mosquito sprays from my fellow health and/or garden enthusiasts that you can try. Each of them are quite different, so you can check and see which one is easiest for you to make depending on the ingredients:
- Homemade Mosquito Repellent Spray from ME!
- DIY Mosquito Repellent from Attainable Sustainable
- Easy Mosquito Repellent Spray from Whole Lifestyle Nutrition
- Homemade Bug Spray from Wellness Mama
Wear long clothes in your garden, even in the heat.
It took me years to figure out that the best way for me to avoid mosquito bites was by wearing long clothes. It never sounds comfortable, especially since I overheat easily, to wear any long clothes in the summer heat.
However, I have learned about linen clothes, and how linen is a great cloth choice for the heat. I also learned about those cool summer-heat hiking and fishing shirts that you can buy at your local hiking/outdoor store.
Now, when I go outside to my garden in the summer, no matter how hot it is, I wear: long linen pants that are tucked into boots and a long-sleeved fishing shirt with gloves. And a hat. They are all light-colored as well, because mosquitoes don’t like light-colored clothes.
The last time I went out to my garden, however, I came back inside with a face that looked like it had chicken-pox, since the mosquitoes could only bite my face. I might go even more-extreme and buy one of these cool beekeeper hats. I’m gonna look so awesome.
The fact is, I don’t care how I look, as long as I’m not getting miserably bitten by mosquitoes. Just gain a little bit more confidence in yourself (and humor), and you too can look just as cool as me (photo below). 🙂
3. Finding Joy by Defeating the Pests
Summer is THE TIME for the invasion of pests in the garden. And when you spend less time in the garden because of the summer heat, it can seem like one day, your plants are alive, and the next, they are shriveled and dead.
There are also SO. MANY. PESTS. that can get into your garden. Aphid invasions one year, and the next year, assassin bugs are destroying the tomatoes. Bah.
Don’t let the pest invasions stress you out so much that it kills your joy with your garden! Don’t give up!
Instead of freaking out or sulking about pests, here are some ways for finding joy:
Use your pest invasions as a learning experience.
As you probably know by now, as I repeat this a lot on my website, my goal in life is to find joy and knowledge in the land.
Pest invasions can be used as a way to gain new knowledge about gardening. We should be learning new things all the time in life. Never let your brain stall out on learning!
The next time you have a pest invasion, use it as an opportunity to learn more about that pest:
- What is the pest?
- Why did it flourish in my garden? What can I do to deter it in the future?
- Will it spread in my garden? How can I stop it from spreading?
- What is the best organic pest control spray/liquid/etc. to use in my garden to get rid of this pest?
- What can I plant to prevent future problems with this pest? What can I put in my garden to encourage that pest’s natural enemies?
Last year, I learn lots of info about assassin bugs. I’m hoping to use that information to prevent new assassin bug problems in the future (hopefully, I’ll write it down as a future post!).
Try really hard to use your pest invasions as a positive experience because it will give you new knowledge of your garden. It can be hard to do, but you can do it!
Look for the good bugs, too, and rejoice in their presence.
You know what I’ve learned about pest invasions? Nature has a way of bringing balance. For example, this year, South Carolina’s late spring has been very damp. I’m already seeing aphids in my garden, and I’m trying to learn everything I can about keeping the aphid levels down.
But you know what else I’m seeing? Ladybugs! They are everywhere! This is actually the first season in this garden (this is my 3rd? or 4th? year with this garden) that I have seen ladybugs. I’m so excited to see them!
The ladybugs probably arrived because they LOVE to eat aphids. Now I will learn how to make a welcoming garden for ladybugs, and hopefully, they will help me keep the aphid levels down this year and in the future, too.
When I stop focusing on the PESTS, and I refocus my eyes and my attitude, I often find the good bugs, too. I’ve found walking sticks, preying mantis, lots of spiders, and loads of other beneficial insects in my garden when I look for the positive instead of focusing only on the bad.
That’s a cool life lesson. 🙂
Click here to learn about the Best Plants for Attracting Beneficial Insects To Your Garden.
There were so many Preying Mantis in our yard last summer that we even found them hanging upside down on our roof overhang!
4. Finding Joy while Beating the Weeds
I will be honest here, I don’t mind weeding my garden as much as other people. I find it quite therapeutic to pull weeds in my garden. It probably helps that I have raised beds, so the weeds are easy to pull out. The paths of my garden look like chaos to the outside world, though, because I usually leave the weeds alone in the paths.
However, this year, we’ve gotten a lot more rain than usual, and it has been impossible to keep up with the weeds.
Here are some tips for finding joy while beating the weeds:
Use pulling weeds as free therapy for your problems.
Having a bad day at work/home/life? Go to your garden and weed. The violent pulling up and destruction of weeds can be a very calming thing for your brain/mindset. I find weeding as a really good anger-management technique. By the time I’ve finished weeding a garden bed, I have zoned out and no longer feel anger/grumpiness. Instead, I’m beaming with joy at my cleaned garden bed.
I also use weeding my garden as a time for self-reflection. It’s quiet, I’m doing something repetitive, and I can just think to myself about whatever I need to think about. I love that slowed-down refection time in my garden.
So slow down, pull some weeds, and learn new lessons for life about patience, consistency, learning to stop comparing your garden to others, etc.
Avoid being stressed about weeding by doing just a little bit at a time.
I know you might look out at your garden full of weeds and you want to panic and stress about it. I know you instinctively want to be overwhelmed about it. Don’t do that.
Take a deep breath. Use this as a way to learn about being a planner person in your garden. Plan out how much you can weed in a day or a week. Do that much weeding and no more.
I like to break my garden into zones, and weed one zone each week.
Of course, this means that there is never a time where my whole garden is 100% weed-free. But you know what? That seems like too difficult of a goal for me in my life right now, because I work full time, have too many hobbies, have this website as a side-job, and I have a huge garden.
Why stress about the weeds? All that does is make me enjoy my garden less. Instead, I prefer to be practical about it. There is so much weeding I can do each week and still have time for other things to do in my garden. I’m okay with that. Most plants aren’t dying from sharing a garden bed with a few weeds for a few more days.
It will be alright. Slow down, take deep breaths, and find a good balance between weeding and other garden activities.
More Tips for Finding Joy in the Garden in Summer:
I based most of these tips about enjoying your summer garden around these four main issues (heat, mosquitoes, pests, and weeds), however, there are plenty of other ways to learn how to find joy in your garden in summer. Here are a few more:
- Add flowers to your garden so you can enjoy both beauty and practicality. (check out this list of edible flowers for inspiration).
- Add a garden bench (this is mine) so you can sit and rest in your garden.
- Add garden statues, lights, and other decorations to enhance the garden’s beauty. Make your personality shine.
- Consider adding a new garden plot in a shady spot of your yard so you can garden somewhere even in the middle of the day.
- When plants bolt from the heat, learn how to save the seeds for future gardens. (future posts coming!)
- Learn How to Recover from a Poor Gardening Season
- When your gardening joy is low, vacation somewhere colder and visit some professional gardens there for a renewed spirit and new inspiration.
Did you find info about finding joy in the garden in summer inspiring?
Tell me what you think about this article. Did it help give you tips about finding joy in the garden in summer?
Did I miss any important tips and advice? Tell me what you think and feel free to give me some more advice/tips in the comments below! I love to hear from you. <3
More Seasonal Gardening Tips:
- Finding Joy in the Garden in Fall: Dealing with Harvest Overwhelm
- Finding Joy in the Garden in Winter
- How to Recover from a Poor Gardening Season
- How I Take Care of My Garden in the Fall
- Fall Garden Planting Guide