7 tips for gardening in summer
Summer is a favourite time of the year for many of us, invoking memories of sweltering days at the beach or in the backyard, sprinklers on parched lawns, the cricket on the radio or tv, and lounge rooms strewn with wrapping paper and presents.
The long hours of sunshine and the return to warmer weather are good for plants (and people), but success in the summer garden is heavily dependent on available soil moisture.
Periods of prolonged dry weather and excessive heat can play havoc with many of our popular garden plants. Without adequate moisture soils and potting mixes can dry out, becoming hydrophobic, or water repellent.
In order to get the best out of your garden, we have compiled seven tips to help your garden look in tip top shape.
1. Prepare the soil
Good soil preparation can make or break your garden. Preparing your soil in advance through the months of spring can help your garden thrive throughout summer. Good quality soil allows for your plants and vegetables to improve their water holding capacity which is important to avoid your plants drying out. A great way to prepare and improve your soil is to add organic matter in the form of compost, manure or mulch into your soil.
When gardening in pots use a quality potting mix as cheap mixes are next to useless unless fortified with washed river sand and compost. Quality potting mixes hold moisture and nutrients around a plant’s roots, allow growing roots enough air to breathe and assists to support the plant and its roots.
2. Give your garden a good soak
Water is everything come summer, whether it’s jumping in the pool, taking a dip in the ocean or giving your garden a good drink. Watering efficiently in the cooler times of the day and using composts and organic mulches which break down into the soil will keep your gardens full of moisture which your plants need during the summertime.
The best time to water your garden is early in the morning. Try avoiding watering your garden in the late afternoon and evening – this reduces the risk of mildew and fungus growth. And, remember to comply with relevant government directions regarding water use.
3. Feed your garden
Your garden needs more than just water to get through those hot summer days. Feeding your garden results in healthier plants and vegetables that are more resilient to heat and drought and helps your garden stand up to the stresses of summer.
Feeding your garden with controlled release dry or a liquid fertilizers can help promote a healthy root system and strong growth, while strengthening cell walls, allowing your plants to retain water for longer periods of time.
READ MORE: 8 tips for gardening in winter
4. Help your garden stay cool
If an area of your garden is exposed to direct sunlight for the majority of the day, look for ways you can create shade, to give your garden a break from the harsh summer sun. Potted plants should be moved to a shady position where possible; whether that is under a cluster of trees or your veranda to help them get some reprieve from the summer heat.
If areas of your garden can’t be moved into a shady position, extra watering and mulch around your plants can help to retain moisture in the soil.
5. Add mulch into your garden
Nature’s blanket, mulch is the perfect way to keep your soil cool in summer. Mulch covers your soil which both retains moisture and limits evaporation, helping out your plants and your water bill.
Not only is mulch great for holding in moisture, organic mulches such as hardwood chips, pine straw and grass clippings slowly break down over time, adding micronutrients to your soil which contributes to your soil health.
6. Take advantage of summer plants and vegetables
Summertime is the perfect time to grow vegetables in your garden. Varieties such as salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini are easy to grow and thrive in the summer weather.
If plants and flowers are your thing, succulents, orchids, ferns, geraniums (look out for the new releases Big Red and Big Pink) and the summer annuals like petunias and phlox are the perfect choice as it gets warmer.
7. Look after yourself
Summer in Australia can be characterised by long, hot sweltering days in the sun. Whether you are pruning, mowing the lawn or planting vegetables, staying cool is not only great for your garden but also your personal health.
It is recommended to stay out of the sun between 10am and 4pm when UV rays are at their strongest. If you are gardening outside, make sure you cover up, wear a hat, sunglasses, drink plenty of water and apply broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30+.