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Heatwave-proof your garden ready for the Summer

With temperatures reaching a whopping 37.8°C in July 2020, 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, you should understand how to look after your garden without spending too much or creating a massive water bill.

To help you get started, property experts at Bramleys have shared their top tips on how to keep your garden and its contents safe during the dry summer months.

1. Keep your plants hydrated

During hot weather, the best time to water your plants is early in the morning and in the evening to avoid the bright sunshine drying out the soil. Although it may be easier to use a hosepipe to water your plants, wetting the leaves or flowers can do more damage to your crops than good. Instead, use a watering can to water directly at the roots so the plants can take it in quicker.


2. Consider drought-resistant plants

The last thing you want is to invest in some beautiful plants for your garden, only for them not to make it through the summer. Many plants originating from tropical climates such as the Mediterranean or South America or Africa can survive extreme weather conditions from dry heat waves, freezing winters and prolonged wet situations. Perfect for the unpredictable British climate!

Rock roses and Watsonias are just some of the flowers that can make it through summer without leaving you with a heavy water bill. Alternatively, agave plants and palm leaves can look great along paths or around the border of your garden and require little maintenance throughout the year.

 

3. Protect your soil 

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 blown around.

 

4. Let your grass grow

Although we’re all tempted to get the lawnmower out the minute the sunshine appears, 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.

 

5. Use larger plants as shade

An alternative to using shade cloths in your garden is to position younger transplants under the shade of older and large plants. The most juvenile plants are affected most during heat waves, so providing them with partial shade will help protect them from direct sunlight. Ensure that the plants still receive some sunlight, as the constant shade can be equally damaging for their growth.


6. Protect the wildlife

In a heatwave, wildlife can struggle with dehydration and a lack of food. There are various 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.

 

7. Collect rainwater

Although we may not get a lot over the summer, rainwater can be much better for your plants than tap water. It contains all the necessary minerals that your plants need without any added chemicals and has a lower pH. Consider getting a water butt in the garden and attached it to your gutters for easy water collection or to store water from previous, wetter months.

 

8. Plant seeds deeper

If you are starting to plant seeds when the temperature is already high, consider planting the seeds slightly deeper than advised. Direct sunlight will dehydrate the top layer of soil quickly, and by positioning seeds an inch or two deeper, the root systems can develop and grow successfully without being dried out.

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