Prune hedges and shrubs to maintain the perfect shape, size
Prune shrubs that have put on a lot of growth this year. Prune them as needed to keep them in the proper scale for your garden. Growth will be mostly hardened off in early July so there should be minimal new growth when pruned at this time.
Try using a pair of hand pruners instead of an electric hedge clipper to create a more natural look by making individual cuts at different heights throughout the shrubs. For a more formal look, make cuts at the same height. Prune right above the leaves to help hide the cuts.
Careful pruning will leave the plants smaller but not looking "sheared." Remove dead wood as necessary.
• Keep pruning your espaliered plants as they send out new growth to keep them looking crisp. You should expect to trim the espaliered plants several times over the course of the summer to maintain the best appearance.
• Bluegrass lawns will go dormant during the typical summer hot and dry weather; that is OK and how I manage my lawn at home. I do not water my lawn.
Recent rains have perked up most lawns that are not irrigated. Established bluegrass lawns need about an inch of water a week to continue to actively grow and stay green throughout the summer. Water deeply once a week rather than lightly multiple times a week. This promotes a deeper root system so the grass will hold up better to stress.
To determine how long it takes your sprinkler to deliver 1 inch of water, set out a coffee, tuna or other shallow can with straight sides and time how long it takes to fill it with an inch of water. Be consistent with your watering practices -- either water on a regular basis all summer or let your grass go dormant during hot, dry periods.
If your soils are heavy and water begins to run off after long periods of watering, then you may need to split watering into a couple times per week.
Mowing your lawn at a height of 3 inches or more will also help the grass withstand stress and keep out weeds.
• Tim Johnson is director of horticulture at Chicago Botanic Garden, chicagobotanic.org.