With the official start of summer just ahead, there’s no doubt that Mother Nature will crank up the thermostat soon, but hopefully she’ll send more rain our way than last year. Whatever the season holds, good or ill, every gardener wants to make the most of their warm-season garden. After all, it’s our best chance to produce pretty flowers and tasty vegetables and to attract the birds and butterflies that brings the garden to life.

If you’re wondering what you can do to make your garden reach its full potential, consider these timely tips.

Keep a Pretty Pot at the Front Door

Make best use of your gardening expertise by locating a big pot at the front door, or another important focal point, and then fill it to the brim with bold bloomers or layers of luxuriant foliage. The key to year-round drama is careful maintenance, with little tweaks here and there, plus frequent overhauls to keep the display at its best, replacing some or all of the plants every few months and the soil at least once each year.

Select Heat-Loving Annuals

Annuals, short-lived plants with a long bloom season, provide big bang for the buck. Identify those that thrive in the heat and you have a winning combination—fabulous flowers that will thrive in the sizzling days of July and August when many perennials have petered out. Best bets include select zinnias (Zinnia x hybrida), marigolds (Tagetes), cosmos (Cosmos species or hybrids), spider flower (Cleome hassleriana), Flamingo celosa (Celosa spicata), butter daisy (Melampodium divaricatum), and gomphrena.

Improve Crop Yields

Boost crop yields in the vegetable garden by adding plants with blue blooms, a color that attracts bees. Three plants that work especially well for this purpose are the herbs borage (Borago officinalis), anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), and African blue basil (Ocimum kilimandscharicum x basilicum ‘Dark Opal’). Pole beans, in particular, benefit from good pollination,…