Summer vegetables
Photo: Martin Poole/Thinkstock
At the first hint of warmer weather, people across the country start to long for summer's gentle breeze, lush lawns, blooming flowers and, of course, thriving gardens. Whether you live in California's southern coast or the mountainous inlands of Maine, getting that summer garden to thrive throughout the season is actually quite simple—just follow this summer planting guide complete with expert tips from HGTV's Jamie Durie, host of The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie.

When to Plant

If you plant too early in the season, you run the risk of frost and freezing nights killing off your plants and damaging their growth. That's why the end of May to early June, depending on the climate where you live, can be the safest time to plant. To get an idea of when you should start to plant, determine the average last spring frost date in your area and go from there.

As far as the best type of day to plant, steer clear of windy days when summer's gentle breeze turns into forceful gusts. Not only can this destroy a plant's leaves, but it can also cause serious stress to the roots, hindering the growth process. So keep an eye on the sky for a calm, cloudy summer day when neither the wind nor the sun can damage your efforts.

Preparing the Soil

Before you even think about what to plant in your garden, you have to take the time to prepare the soil. "Soil is the most important part of any garden," Jamie says. "You really need to look after it."

First, remove all the weeds from your garden area. Weeds compete with your crops for nutrients and water, so you'll want to be on the lookout for them throughout your garden's growth, not just at the beginning.

Next, loosen up the soil. Jamie uses a gardening fork and works the soil by digging and turning. He then mixes a rich, organic matter like compost through the top inch of soil. Finally, add a layer of mulch to help preserve moisture—it's one of the best things you can do for your garden in the summer. But be careful, Jamie cautions. If the mulch is too close to the stem of the plant, it can cause fungal problems.

Get a list of the best vegetables and herbs to plant in summer.