Malus sylvestris at Vosseslag - De Haan, Belgium Malus sylvestris at Vosseslag - De Haan, Belgium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Control weeds and keep grass short around bushes and trees and among recently planted ground covers. Maintain a minimum 3’ diameter circle for each tree or shrub that is free of competing weeds. If there are a lot of weeds coming up in your new groundcover planting, lay multiple layers of newspaper, or a layer of cardboard, between plants to smother weeds and retain soil moisture. A layer of bark or compost on top will keep the area looking nice. Invasive perennial weeds, such as quack grass, ivy, or morning glory will not be controlled as readily in one year with smothering.
Monitor fruit trees, especially those with heavy crops that were not thinned earlier in the season, for drooping branches that look like they could break. Prune those drooping branches back, or remove fruit from the ends of the branches, to prevent major limbs from breaking. If you can’t bring yourself to sacrifice some fruit then at least prop up branches with a sturdy brace. Remember, breaks usually cause a lot more damage to the tree than the lighter thinning or pruning would have. Next winter reduce the length of those long thin branches that were drooping this summer, to increase their strength.

This year we have seen a warm dry summer for growers in the Pacific Northwest. In normal years drought-induced dormancy in the trees often occurs in August, and could be a factor again this year with a typical August increase in temperature and decrease in rainfall. Repeated years of such stress can hamper plant health. Check the soil where stressed plants are growing, cracked dry soil conditions can be corrected next year with coarse organic mulches on the surface and perhaps different irrigation practices. (See the section on irrigation for more information) This year provide a slow deep watering to re-hydrate the soil, (starting just inside the outside edge of the leaf canopy and extending outward several feet) if needed.

Fall flowering of spring flowering plants can occur as a result of summer heat or drought stress induced dormancy, followed by a cool or wet period, fooling the plant into functioning as if spring has just arrived. Don’t worry, not all of next spring’s flower buds will open in the fall.