10 Common Garden Problems—and How to Fix Them

Summer is what gardeners dream of all winter—warm weather, flourishing flowers, and a bountiful harvest that's carried straight from the veggie patch to the dinner table. But along with the sun and fun of summer comes a host of problems that can frustrate even the most steadfast gardeners. Your plants suffer from too much water . . . or too little. Even if the rabbits leave your garden alone, the Japanese beetles will surely come after it. Don’t slug it out with the garden slugs all by yourself! We've got your back. Read on to learn how to combat some of the most common summer gardening problems.

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  1. Weeds


    Weeds are a perennial garden problem. Just like other plants, weeds thrive in the sun and rain of summer. Apply a deep layer of mulch in spring to foil their efforts, and when weeds do sprout, eliminate them early by pulling them up, scalding them, or spraying them with herbicide.

    Related: 9 Natural Ways to Kill Weeds

  2. Black Spot on Roses


    Black spot is caused by a fungal disease that occurs in warm, wet weather and affects roses in all regions. Leaves develop black spots on the upper side, turn yellow, and fall off. To combat black spot, be sure to plant disease-resistant varieties, in locations that receive plenty of sunshine and air circulation, and don’t overwater!

  3. Powdery Mildew on Veggies


    Powdery mildew is found throughout North America and especially affects veggies like squash, melons, and cucumbers. Once powdery mildew appears, you can control it, but you can’t cure it. Pick off affected leaves and spray with a fungicide or a mixture of milk and water. Try to prevent the disease by planting resistant varieties in areas with plenty of air circulation.

  4. Japanese Beetles


    The Japanese beetle is a pest to over 200 plants, including roses, crape myrtles, and grapes. It damages plants by skeletonizing the foliage or defoliating them completely. Get rid of these critters by handpicking them off your plants, trapping them, or spraying. Alternatively, work the prevention angle by killing the grubs in the soil before they hatch into leaf-eating beetles.


  5. Aphids


    The aphid is a tiny but prolific insect that attacks in colonies, feeding on the juices in plant stems, leaves, buds, flowers, and fruit. Aphids end up in just about every garden in all zones. Combat them by spraying them off the leaves with water, spraying plants with insecticidal soap, or attracting beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings to your garden.

  6. Drought


    Lack of water is a major summer stress for a garden. Regularly amend your soil with compost to boost the performance and overall health of plants to make them more resilient. Mulch your garden to help retain moisture, and practice efficient watering techniques. To minimize evaporation, use drip hoses with timers, and water the base of your plants early in the morning. 


  7. Too Much Water


    Heavy rains and too much watering can be just as destructive to a garden as drought. Excess water leaches nitrogen out of the soil, leaving plants yellowing and starved for nutrients. You can’t stop the rain, but you can create the best drainage possible for your plants, and, of course, don't make matters worse by overwatering.

  8. Blossom-End Rot


    Blossom-end rot affects many vegetables, particularly tomatoes, peppers, melons, and eggplant. The disorder is characterized by a dark, rotting spot at the blossom end of the fruit, and it's most often caused by a calcium deficiency. Add lime to the soil, don’t overfertilize, and make sure plants are watered evenly.

  9. Rabbits


    Rabbits love to feed on the tender shoots of young plants. Protect your seedlings with collars made of tin cans, or with a chicken-wire fence. You can also plant deterrent plants like marigolds and onions around the perimeter of your garden to help keep them away.

    Related: How To: Combat Garden Pests

  10. Slugs


    Slugs sneak into your garden at night and devour the leaves of your plants. You can trap them or try to deter them with barriers of copper strips, pine needles, or diatomaceous earth. You can also attract birds and toads to your property, which love to feast on slugs.

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