With temperatures last summer reaching a whopping 37.8°C during July, breaking records as the UK’s third hottest day ever, we are all hoping for a repeat this year. However, despite sunshine being a gift for most gardeners, excessive heat can cause a large amount of sometimes irreversible damage to your plants. To keep your garden safe, it is essential to understand how to look after your garden without spending too much or creating a massive water bill.
To help you get started, we’ve shared five top tips on how to keep your garden and its contents safe during the dry summer months.
During hot weather, the best time to water your plants is early in the morning and in the evening to avoid the bright sunshine. Although it may be easier to use a hosepipe to water your plants, wetting the leaves or flowers quickly can do more damage to your crops than good. Instead, use a water can to water directly at the roots so the plants can take in all the water quicker.
The last thing you want is to invest in some beautiful plants for your garden only for them to not make it through the summer. Many plants originate from tropical climates such as the Mediterranean or South American, or Africa that can survive extreme weather conditions from dry heat waves, freezing winters and prolonged wet situations. Perfect for the unpredictable British climate! Rock roses, Watsonias, are just some of the flowers that can make it through summer without a giant water bill. Alternatively, agave plants and palm leaves look great along paths or around the border of your garden and require little maintenance throughout the year.
Using mulch to cover the soil in your garden will protect it from direct sunlight exposure and prevent your plant’s roots from drying out. Mulch can also reduce water evaporation from the ground and lower your overall water usage throughout the year. To create your own mulch, leave your fresh lawn clippings out in the sun for a few days until they turn dry and light brown. This method can also help protect your garden during windy seasons and stop your plants from being irritated and moved around.
Although we are all tempted to get the lawnmower out as soon as the sun comes out, it is better and safer for your lawn to allow the grass to grow longer during the summer months. Letting your grass grow to at least three inches will provide shade for the ground and help the soil retain moisture. It is also best to avoid using any kind of fertiliser or feed on your plants or lawn during this time as the roots will struggle to absorb the nutrients during the heat.
In a heatwave, wildlife can struggle with dehydration and a lack of food. There are many simple things you can do to help creatures stay safe. Hedgehogs are primary victims as when the ground becomes dry and hard; they cannot find food. To help, you can leave small bowls of water and meaty pet food out on an evening. If you have a birdbath or feeders in your garden, ensure that it is kept in the shade so the water stays fresh and cool throughout the day. Leaving a water sugar solution can help bees or butterflies that may become exhausted during the day, and fish ponds should have some shade so the water does not become too warm and remove any dense weeds that are growing.