Summer sunshine and blue, cloudless skies make for perfect conditions for sitting out in our gardens. It is the ideal time to fire up the BBQ and dine al fresco. It is a time to enjoy our gardens and bask in their wonderful colours and smells. However, warm weather and little rainfall can take its toll on our gardens. During this weather many people wonder what they can do to keep their gardens looking their best? Here, our garden expert, Paraic Horkan, shares his advice and tips on caring for your garden in hot weather.
Watering The Garden
- Water the soil, not the plant. When watering pots, containers or plants in the garden soil, water the compost or soil heavily and then leave alone for several days.
- Sometimes we waste so much time and water by overwatering plants in hot weather. There is no need to water plants every evening/day.
- Water plants in the cool of the evening as there will be less water evaporation. Plants will also have time to absorb the water, before the heat of the following day.
- Recycle water! When watering your plants use water that has been previously used in the home. For example:
- water used to boil potatoes & veg. Allow it to cool down first, then use to hydrate your plants. This water is full of nutrients.
- water used to wash fruit & veg.
- water used for washing dishes. Even if this waters contains washing up liquid or liquid soaps, it can be used to water plants. It's usable on both edible and flowering plants. The soap is harmless, it will wash greenfly or bugs away, acting as a pesticide.
- If you are running the tap waiting for water to heat up, capture this water in a bucket and use to water plants.
- Use an automatic irrigation system if you have lots of hanging baskets and window boxes. This device will come on at night to release a small amount of water to the designated area for 5 minutes and then stop. It only releases a small amount of water each night and keeps your baskets blooming all summer.
- Apply a 3 inch layer of bark mulch, mushroom compost or peat to the soil of plants. Mulch will conserve moisture in the soil and help keep the suns rays from hitting directly onto the soil. Further, mulch will help to stop the soil moisture from evaporating.
- Don't mow your lawn too tightly. Although it is tempting to do so, closely mowed grass exposes the soil to the direct sunlight. During sunny weather adjust the blades on your lawnmower. You should aim to leave your lawn about 2 inches long.
- Don't water your lawn. Your grass may go brown but when rain arrives it will re-grow and return to its natural, green colour. Lawn seed primarily comes from hot climates in Africa and Asia. Hence, it can survive during hot, dry spells.
- Do not sow a new lawn during hot weather. You can begin preparations by removing weeds from the soil and tilling the soil, but don't sow the lawn seed until rain is promised. Wait, wait, wait until rain is promised.
Hanging Baskets and Window Boxes
- When planting hanging baskets and containers use water retentive gel. Water retentive gel absorbs water, stores it and then releases the water back to plants as the compost dries.
- Use ice cubes of recycled water. As the ice cubes melt they will release the water slowly into hanging baskets or patio containers.
- Sit your containers in saucers of water. As your plants need the water they will absorb it, into the roots.
- Plants that bear fruit or produce tubers (e.g. tomatoes & potatoes) need regular watering and feeding. I recommend you water these plants heavily, then leave the plants for a couple of days before re-watering. Feed the plants with Tomato Plant Food every ten days, then enjoy!