Summer can be very sapping in the garden as the heat just seems to make everything that little bit harder. Your plants tend to stifle in the heat and slow down, wilting as the afternoon sun gets high in the sky. During these hot months there are a few things I do to try and keep the garden ticking over and healthy.
Start by keeping the garden well irrigated and try to water in the morning to reduce the chance of powdery mildew forming on the plants. I like to add some Epsom salts to boost the magnesium in the soil as this will promote robust growth. Plants like gardenia and rose will really benefit from this and it can be applied to the roots or foliage. If you have yellowing leaves on your citrus, banksia, camellias, grevilleas or azaleas then add some iron to the soil to rectify this, and water in well.
Automatic irrigation systems are excellent as using water wisely as drip line can get water directly to where it is needed. If establishing a new garden bed you will have to supplement the irrigation with some hand watering to ensure the root balls of the new plants get adequate water. If you have a small garden or courtyard you can also adapt your irrigation system to have misters that will cool the air and add humidity, opening up the variety of plants you can grow … and making it more pleasant to be outside.
Shade should be considered during these months to keep out of the heat. Introducing something to hide under during January could be as simple as a market umbrella. More long-term options include planting a shade tree (if you have the space), I love deciduous trees as they offer protection from the UV when you need it and much needed light during the cooler months. Fixed structures such as pergolas and arches for plants to climb over will also provide relief from the heat but ensure you get the correct council approvals before erecting a structure like this. I love deciduous climbers for my structures for the same reasons as I love deciduous trees however you can also make these elements all weather with roof panels or even louvers – it all depends on your budget.
Keeping your potted plants healthy during the heat can be a struggle, start by giving them a dose of liquid soil wetter as this will allow moisture to penetrate all the way through the potting mix and help prevent run off down the sides of the pot. I also get some pot stands with castors so they can be moved around, with ease, out of the direct sun.
Keep an eye on pests as weak plants that are being affected by the heat will be prime targets for insects to infest and wipe out some more delicate plants. If spraying to combat this, ensure you do not do so in the heat of the day as this can be damaging to the foliage. I always try to use a natural based spray and never spray in windy conditions.
Getting your lawn through the heat of summer can be a test too but don’t stop giving it some love When cutting hardly take anything off as this will ensure you can keep it long. This extra length creates an insulation layer that protects the roots. It also means its easier to do as you’re not constantly emptying the catcher!
The best tip for getting through the hot days in the garden is to not work in the heat of the day – you’ll only end up going backwards, pick early mornings and late afternoons when you can really enjoy being outside.