Hot Summers: How To Care For Your Home Garden When It’s Very Hot Outside

Days at the beach or in the family pool, barbecues in the backyard, longer evenings – there’s lots to love about the summer season. But sometimes the summer heat can be too much for your garden, drying out and burning plants before they reach the chance to reach their full potential. if you think you could be in for a heat wave this year, here are a few useful tips to help you plan ahead to protect your garden.

How summer heat can affect your garden

High levels of summer heat can turn your garden from green and vibrant to brown and scorched in a short amount of time. Plants can wilt and dry out, fail to grow properly and produce fruit, or even die off either little by little or completely. During high temperatures, the greatest danger to your plants is not having enough water to survive, so making sure your soil maintains enough moisture is the top priority.

When the summer heat hits, the most obvious way to care for your plants is through increased watering. However, this can be labor intensive and may not be possible if water use is restricted during a drought. Also, bear in mind that over-watering can be damaging, even in summer, so it’s useful to have some more sophisticated tricks up your sleeve to help the soil retain water.

How water is lost

Plants are a lot like people. As the summer weather warms up and the days grow longer, a plant’s need for water increases and they sweat a bit more, just as we do. Only they draw the water from the soil with their roots and it travels to the rest of the plant.

Plants sweat through a process called transpiration – the loss of water primarily from pores on their leaves, but also from stems and flowers. Transpiration serves to cool plants as escaping water vapor carries away heat energy. While this need for increased water is a gradual build up from spring to mid-July, it’s not unusual for gardeners to turn on their irrigation systems in late March. They let it run until October, most knowing at some level that the plants need more water in the summer, but are unable to gauge just how much.

Water can also be lost from run off and used by other plants. Make sure your plants face minimal competition for water by keeping the area around them weed-free. You can even help your plants use the water they do get in the ways that are the most effective for their survival. By removing dead flower heads before plants go to seed, you can save them from wasting valuable water on seed production.

Mulching

Mulch is a great solution to summer heat, because it helps you conserve the water around your plant’s roots in two ways. Firstly, a couple of inches of mulch around your plants will protect the soil from the sun’s heat and reduce the evaporation of water. Secondly, it offers a time-saving way of preventing weeds from growing which would compete for water wit your plants. As a bonus, the mulch also keeps th soil cool. this can be important if you are growing plants as root crops which prefer lower temperatures.

Protective plants

Another good way to protect your plants from the summer heat is to use other plants to shield them. There are lots of possible candidates for this job, so your choices will depend on what you would like to see in your garden, as well as the requirements of the plants you are shading. if you would like a bold and colorful solution, sunflowers are a summertime classic which can provide important shade for more sensitive plants, at the same time and brighten up your garden.

Trees and shrubs also offer great shade and have the added advantage that they can protect you from the sun too. Just remember that, while shading plants protect the soil from drying out, they also use water themselves, so think about whether they will offer enough shade to compensate. A handy solution is growing your shading plants in planters : that way they not only have their own supply of moisture, they are also portable and can be moved around the garden wherever they are needed.

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