Virginia Landmarks
December 2, 1998
Fairlington Historic District
Gardening By The Yard
National Register
March 29, 1999
Historic Designation Seal Homes in Historic Fairlington background image - American Flag Homes in Historic Fairlington Historic Designation Seal

Photo by Guy L. Adams
Gardening by the Yard
By Tom Corbin
A Fairlington Gardener

Summer 2005 Gardening Tips

Plants really took a beating from the recent heat and drought, but predicted rain and cooler temperatures will help prepare your garden for a spectacular end of season display. Gardeners who have regularly watered, deadheaded (removed dead flowers), "pinched and pruned", and fertilized annuals/ perennials will be rewarded with vigorous plants until frost.

Keeping the Border Fit and Trim!

Keeping dead flower heads removed (deadheading) means that plants, especially annuals, will not set seeds and will continue to bloom.

Reducing the size of annuals by selective pruning to shape and to keep from becoming leggy will encourage new growth and new blooms. This is especially true of the more common annuals such as marigolds, petunias, impatiens, zinnias, sweet potato vine, verbena, annual salvia, etc. Coleus are effective foliage plants for shade or sun and respond to pinching out the top growth, causing the plant to produce new growth at the lower leaves creating a fuller plant. Pinching the top growth of the coleus keeps it from blooming (it is planted for its foliage, not flowers), thus keeping it renewing its colorful foliage.

Pinching out the tops of herbs, such as basil, and removing its flowers will keep the supply of this summer favorite plentiful.

Some perennials also respond to deadheading. Common garden phlox will rebloom after its first blooms die if it is deadheaded. Deadheading keeps the garden trim and fresh; remove the spent blossoms of hosta for the sake of "garden neatness". Some perennials can be cut back after blooming and they will produce new growth; daylilies do this, so will the common Lady's Mantle. Some garden favorites have been bred to rebloom - certain daylilies, azaleas ("Encore" variety), and even iris will rebloom in late summer and fall. Remember, pinch for more flowers!


Plants will respond to a light "dressing" of fertilizer. Use either a slow release granular fertilizer, such as Ozmocote, or a liquid one such as Miracle Grow or Peters. Container gardens especially need regular fertilization as frequent watering depletes the soil of nutrients.


Regular weeding keeps the garden trim and neat. Fairlington seems to have an abundance of "poke" weeds this year. You have seen them - they are the tall plants with longish green leaves/ red stems that produce insignificant flowers followed by purple berries. Birds love the berries and consequently spread them through their droppings. Poke is a perennial and needs aggressive measures to remove it. Pull it up when young or spray with an herbicide (following the product's directions), making certain you keep it off of other plants. There are some patios that have "poke" plants which have reached the top of the fence.

"The Scoop on Poop" (from Virginia Gardener Magazine, July/ August 2005,
Virginia Region Report by Melissa Butler, page 13.)

"Everyone is aware of the fact that we need to scoop up our dogs' poop. When a dog poops, it goes somewhere, even if we don't pick it up. It may get washed into the nearest storm drain - and then directly into our natural waterways, or it will stay on the lawn until it disintegrates, releasing its nitrogen and bacteria into the soil and water table.

Poop is unhealthy for both or water systems and our yards. The high amount of nitrogen in poop causes unnatural algal blooms that destroy ecosystems in our streams. The nitrogen content of poop is so high that it shocks and kills lawn grass. Dog poop also carries fecal coliform bacteria. It…contaminates…lawns where children might play barefoot.

The best way to dispose of dog poop is to pick it up and throw it away. Pet stores sell biodegradable poop bags and a wide selection of gadgets to make this as easy as possible. When you throw the bagged poop away in the trash, it will go to a landfill where it will be contained, treated or incinerated in a way that protects our {environment}."

It's the Law - Arlington County requires all dog owners to pick up dog feces and to dispose of it properly. Remember it's the right thing to do and it's the law!

Odds and Ends

Garden Viewing

Take a minute to walk around Fairlington to see what is successful in your neighbors' gardens. Checking out others' borders will give you plenty of ideas for your garden. Area public gardens, such as Green Spring Gardens, the gardens at the Smithsonian (behind the "castle"), and at the Botanical Gardens (north end of Mall near Capitol), will give you lots of ideas and plants to contemplate for your own garden!

Check out the gardening feature on HGTV (Home and Garden TV at for tips and advice! You may also access the site from the Fairlington gardening page.

NewLate Summer Photos of Tom's Garden
Click Here for Photo Gallery
Posted August 26, 2005

Late Spring Photos of Tom's Garden
34th Street
(New Images & Plant Descriptions
Posted May 23, 2005)

Click Here for Slide Show

(Compare with Three Weeks Ago!!)

Photo from Tom's Garden
Commons Resident Guy L. Adams
(Click on Photo for More Images)
Summer is Here
Check out Our Gardening Page
Photos of Tom's Garden

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