After weeks of record-breaking summer temperatures, most of us have been able to enjoy the benefits of the fine weather. But our gardens may be feeling the impact and looking a little worse for wear as a result! So how can we care for our outdoor spaces during a heatwave?
Caring for Containers, Borders and Beds
It’s important to water your plants regularly if you want your prize flowers, fruit and veg to crop or flower at their best over summer. If plants become too dry they are more likely to be overcome by diseases or pests and become weaker as a result. You can use a watering system such as a hose, sprayer or watering can to keep your container plants, water beds, hanging baskets and borders hydrated. Water them first thing in the morning or in the evening when the temperature has cooled. Another way to keep your plants well watered is to use a garden irrigation system such as a water reservoir or water dripper, which directly waters your garden plants exactly when they need it. A water dripper system is basically a hose network which is attached to your outdoor tap. These are also very good for greenhouses. Water reservoirs retain water stores that use more homemade methods to deliver essential moisture to plants. You can find water irrigation systems at B&Q from just £30.
For potted plants, it’s important to water regularly, as they lack deep soil in which moisture can be retained. Get as much water into the soil as you can, and then put them into a tray or saucer. That way any water that drains off will gather into the saucer and can be re-drawn into the plant’s root system when it needs it. Similarly, when there is some rainfall, the saucer can catch it and provide a water boost to the plant. Don’t leave your containers sitting in a deep saucer during a wet spell, though, as the roots may become water-logged and damage the plant. Just use them in a dry spell or summer or when you are likely to be away on holiday. Another tip for when you are due to be away is to put your pots and containers into a shady spot so that they aren’t scorched by the sun. Find plant pots from just £1.75 at Wilko.
When your local utility company imposes a hosepipe ban and there’s no sign of rain, your lawn can rapidly start to look sad and brown. So take action with your lawnmower and adjust its settings so that it leaves the grass a little longer when you mow. Why does this help? Because the extra grass length helps to prevent the sun from reaching the soil underneath and prevents it from drying out. This keeps your lawn looking healthier for longer. It’s important to still cut the grass regularly, even in hot weather. Do it at least once every two weeks – otherwise, weeds can appear and the grass can run to seed. Don’t worry too much either if your lawn starts to lose its lovely green colour in the heat. As soon as the rain returns it will regain its lush colour once again. You don’t need to water it daily or sow extra grass seed. Argos does a great range of lawnmowers that start from as little as £35. This McGregor model costs less than £70.
Using a Grass Trimmer
Have you been on holiday and returned to an overgrown lawn? Then don’t make the mistake of cutting it really short in one fell swoop. Simply lower the blades a little on your lawnmower when you do cut it. Don’t lay any new turf in the summer either, because this needs plenty of water to establish and is best done in autumn or spring when the temperatures tend to be milder and the rain is more plentiful.
Pick Your Crops Regularly
Ripe fruit and vegetables use a lot of water, so pick them as soon as they become ripe. If you have a glut of fruit and veg, look at nifty ways to preserve and freeze them or give them to neighbours. If you regularly pick mature fruits, then the remaining crops can get more water. For root crops, you don’t need to harvest them straight away to preserve water and instead can wait until you are ready to use them. However, all other vegetables need to be harvested quickly when they are ready. If you have tomatoes, pick those which are forming and place them on a windowsill. This will help to preserve the plant’s energy.
Greenhouses can become incredibly hot in summer weather. Some plants respond to this, but others will become scorched and dehydrated. If you see brown patches at the tip of a plant leaf, then this is usually a sign that things have become too hot. Open the greenhouse door, vent and window to keep fresh air circulating and to moderate the temperature inside. You can also add auto vents or louvre windows for extra control. The former automatically open or close when the weather changes. They don’t even need a power supply to optimise air conditioning, so they are excellent for allotments or if you are away from home in the day and unable to keep an eye on plant conditions. Remember to move plants if they are too much in the sun and apply shading material to provide a curtain-like shade as needed. You can also keep a thermometer inside to keep an eye on conditions and to plan ahead. Find a wide range of greenhouse shading at Amazon.
Wildlife in the Heat
Wildlife struggles too in hot weather, but you can help with a few tips. If you have a pond, then keep the water level high to preserve pond life and to prevent small animals from falling in. Also, add a plank or branch so that animals can drink from the pond safely. If you have a bird bath, also keep it topped up and place it in the shade. Change it regularly so that the water doesn’t stagnate. For bees and butterflies, plant plenty of wildlife-friendly plants for pollination and place marbles in a shallow saucer of water for bees to land safely upon and drink from. John Lewis does a great range of bird baths which are worth a look.
What other tips would you share for budding gardeners to keep their outdoor spaces beautiful this summer?