Late last year we posted some initial tips on how to ‘summer-proof’ your garden in advance of the hot season ahead and the weather certainly hasn’t disappointed on temperature! We’ve been asked by a few of our followers to provide some additional insights on what to do over the summer peak (particularly to reduce water usage) – so here goes:
Look at shade cloth – cooler season plants will really benefit from some sun relief, it can reduce overall water consumption and offer protection to newly seeded gardens or new plantings that are adjusting to conditions.
Put in windbreaks – wind not only creates damage risk to plants directly but strips out soil moisture through increased evaporation. You can either grow your windbreak (taller trees or hedges) or put in a suitable material (old pallets can work well). Windbreaks are worthy of their own full article but to provide some basic material for this month, have a think about the following:
Increase your mulch - This is one of the easiest ways to keep soil temperatures down and moisture levels up. We are partial to a high quality grassy hay but there are a number of very good options available dependent upon location and local climate.
Water consistently – much like ourselves - once you are feeling thirsty dehydration is well underway - plants will show signs of wilt at a point where moisture levels are already too low. So get in early and consistently with your watering schedule.
Water at the right time of day – this one is an ‘oldie but a goodie’ but people still forget. Try and keep watering to early morning or early evening as this will maximise water levels soaking into the soil and reduce waste due to evaporation.
Try interplanting – this is the creation of multiple levels of planting where vines, flowers or low height vegetation is used under higher foliage to keep soil cool and block out weeds. Think watermelons, cucumbers, sweet potatoes or nasturtiums.
Transplant at the right times – avoid the heat and sun as much as possible when transplanting. Transplant shock is a real thing and can damage plants very quickly – so stick to early morning, evening or overcast days.
Maximise rainwater retention – try and catch rainwater around your plants. You can dig ‘foundations’ around plantings to ensure that rainwater is directed back to the plant and its root structures rather than losing water to runoff in the wrong directions. Most of our clients are familiar with tank water systems and capturing high volume runoff – but if you are starting out – even rainwater barrels connected in to downpipes can help you gather much needed water for when the garden is feeling the heat.
Gardening is never easy but hot weather can be especially tough on you and your plants.
Follow these tips for a healthy and productive garden even in hot, dry weather and if you still find you need a little more help - call in and see us at the nursery.