In spring, you saw your garden come to life, don’t let the harsh summer heat ruin what you worked so hard for.
Six tips for summer gardening:
Water plants in the morning
In the hot, dryer months, it is better to water your plants in the AM, while it is still cooler, and there’s less direct sunlight. This allows the water to trickle deeper into the earth and feed the plant's roots without losing too much moisture to evaporation. This way, you’ll also end up saving on your water bill.
Prune dead leaves
With the heat, it’s inevitable that some of your plants’ leaves will wilt and dry out. By removing these leaves, the surviving foliage receives more nutrition and the plant's beauty improves.
On a visual level, brown, crumpled foliage completely ruins the look of an otherwise healthy plant in full bloom, or at the end of its cycle. Trimming them off will give new life to your garden, making it look more vibrant and thriving. Do this carefully with garden shears or scissors. Don’t force leaves or branches that are not letting up, this could harm the plant rather than help it.
Fight off pests
Your garden is home to beneficial insects as well as some that can wreak havoc on your plants.
Crushed eggshells can be scattered on the soil beneath the targeted plants to keep creepy-crawlies like slugs and caterpillars away. Plants and herbs with strong scents, such as lavender, citronella, mint, basil, and lemongrass, are natural repellents for garden pests ranging from aphids to beetles. No more leaf-munching.
There are two varieties of mulch, organic and inorganic that is applied to the surface layer of soil.
The former is made up of any sort of matter that was once living, from bits of shredded paper and cardboard to fallen leaves, grass clippings, bark and food waste (compost). The inorganic kind can be anything from plastic sheeting to glass marbles, rubber chips and rocks. The overall purpose of either is to help suppress the growth of weeds, control soil temperature and retain moisture.
However, the way in which mulch protects plants varies from season to season. In the hotter summer months, the substance mulching can reduce the need for watering by 35-40% by slowing down surface evaporation and lowering soil temperatures.
Many prevalent weeds have evolved to persist in dry environments, and the temperature has only helped to accelerate their growth. In December and January, it’s important to make an effort to pull up our sleeves and yank out some weeds from your garden and lawn. Try and do this earlier, when they are young and fragile, before they grow deeper, firmer roots as they will then be easier to manage and remove. Bear in mind that weeds suck up a lot of valuable water and nutrients from the soil so eradicating them will help your garden plants compete more effectively.
Add some shade
Direct sunlight can be harsh in the dry heat of long summer days. Give your plants an occasional break with some shade to cool off in. Potted plants can be moved undercover or indoors if they would suit the environment. As for those that are planted, you can help protect them by draping shade cloth over the hoops, or installing "shade sails" or even propping up umbrellas to create your own personalised shade environment.
If you plan ahead and plot out the arrangement of your plants you can put taller, sun-loving shrubs near one's that prefer a shade that way in the summer months, both will get exactly what they require.
This was originally published on IOL.