The closer we get to summer, the more garden work there seems to be to keep our yards healthy and looking good.

Consider watering twice a week and applying a half-inch per application if we’re getting rain only once in a while.

If you are moving your houseplants outside for the summer, remember to put them under some shade. The light is a lot stronger outside than inside the house, even by a bright window.

To help clematis survive the summer heat, cover the root area with some bricks to keep the soil cooler, which keeps the root system cooler.

You can plant gladiola bulbs every couple of weeks throughout the summer to provide flower stalks for cutting to be used in arrangements in the house.

Caladium and dahlias can be planted at this time, as the soil temperatures have warmed up to allow the bulbs to germinate. Plant these bulbs in areas with good drainage; poor draining soil will rot the bulbs.

Severe pruning of overgrown shrubs should be done by now. You can still remove an inch or two of new growth from those pruned plants to encourage side shoots that allow the plant to thicken up.

If you see a black-looking substance forming on leaves of your plants and it can be rubbed off easily, this is called sooty mold and is caused by insects sucking plant juices (sugars) from the leaves and execrating the sugars onto leaves below.

The sooty mold grows on the sugars. Soapy water will break down the sooty mold, but you’ll need to treat the plants above for insects.

It’s time to fertilize your shrubs by applying one tablespoonful per foot height of plant; apply at the drip line of the plant (end of limbs).

If you have large beds, apply one-third cup of fertilizer per 10 square feet.

It’s a good time to fertilize your fruit trees and grape vines now.

If you are fertilizing citrus, use a citrus-type fertilizer as it contains minor elements the plants need.

Mole cricket activity will be starting shortly, especially with new young being hatched, so consider treating for insects in the lawn this month.

If you have not fertilized your lawn yet, do so now.

Keep planting your herbs at this time, especially cilantro and basil as these two herbs are used up very quickly and are hard to find later in the summer.

By planting many plants, you will always have some producing new growth to be used and other plants recovering from a lot of harvesting.

Now is a good time to plant okra, lima beans and Southern peas like crowder and black eyed, especially as space becomes available after the harvest of potatoes, the last of greens and English peas.

If you have open space left, mulch it.

Edward Poenicke is a retired Chatham County extension agent. This article is provided in collaboration with Lawn Doctor of Beaufort County.