How to prepare and protect your garden in a heatwave
Summer is often about taking advantage of hotter, longer days. The UK weather can be temperamental, even when we do have a rain shower, sometimes it isn’t enough to dampen the soil and penetrate the roots of many plants.
Heat waves can bring a lot of stress to gardens, plants and wildlife so it’s important to give them the attention they need.
Caring for your garden in hot weather is easy once you know how. We’ve put together a few tips to help out the garden stay in tip-top shape during the summer heat.
Containers and borders
Growing plants in containers can use more water than you might expect, as they are more susceptible to drying out than those in the ground.
Choose to plant in compost that is loam based with wood fibres to retain moisture. Once planted, top dress your container with pebbles, coir, bark chippings or gravel can help aid water loss and prevent any roots from being scorched from the sun.
Move as many of your containers into a shaded area. While they won’t grow as well in the shade, the cooler temperatures will reduce the amount of heat stress inflicted on them.
We recommend our range of self-watering planters which allows you to cater to your plants’ needs without having to water them too often. The drainage holes let out any excess water, so that the plant itself can draw on the contents of the reservoir when it needs them.
Putting a layer of wood bark or mulch on your borders will provide a damp layer of insulation that will lock in well-needed moisture for your plants. Gravel can be useful for all seasons as in winter it filters heavy rain into the soil, and in summer it acts as a moisture-conserving mulch and retains water under the surface, vital in hot conditions.
Push your finger through the mulch and check to see if the soil underneath is moist. If it feels dry, it’s definitely time to water and the best way to do this is scrape soil around your plants to create ‘bowls for you to water into.
Deep soakings are better for your plants and we recommend you water first thing in the morning and evening, when weather is coolest to avoid evaporation.
Drought tolerant plants
There is still plenty you can plant to ensure you have colour garden despite the summer temperatures. Mediterranean plants such as lavender, sage, rosemary, thyme and oregano will thrive in such conditions, as will ornamental grasses, eryngium, euphorbia, verbena, carex and palms. Sedum, hebe and lavender will also need minimal watering and will bring beneficial pollinators to your garden.
Ventilation is important for your plants so they don’t overheat so make sure that you open doors and windows of your greenhouse.
It is important to encourage air circulation in the greenhouse, adjust your heaters to the fan setting which is ideal for warm months to keep the air moving.
Also, consider painting the glass or fixing netting to help reflect the sun’s rays.
Your lawn is mostly dormant during a heatwave. When soil moisture levels fall below a certain point, the grass in your lawn will turn brown and remain dormant until rainfall or watered. Its growth also slows down in the simmer we advise not to mow your lawn in dry and hot weather to avoid damage.
It also tempting to get the sprinklers out on your lawn but try not to overwater. When the soil is constantly wet, grass roots become deprived of oxygen and are susceptible to disease so it could more harm than good. Lawns only require one inch of water per week, including rainfall to thrive.
Storing rain water is one way to be prepared for the dry weather. Rain water can be collected as ‘run-off’ by attaching a water butt to the downpipe in your guttering.
You can also save ‘grey water’ from your kitchen and bathroom. Left over water from cooking washing the dishes or baths can be used in the garden as long as it doesn’t contain food scraps or bleach.
Stored water can then be used around the garden during dry periods and also to water plants and houseplants, whilst reducing your water usage and wastage overall.
The garden wildlife that we love can be put under stress too from warm weather. Hot temperatures can lead to food shortages amongst birds, meaning we it is important to leave seed mix out to supplement their diet.
Top up birdbaths daily as fresh water is essential to the health of their skin and feathers. Check your water sources morning and night to ensure they’re both clean and deep enough to bathe in and drink from.
Garden wildlife will appreciate the respite that a little bit of shade can provide. Ground dwelling animals like hedgehogs will appreciate a nice pile of leaves or shelter from the rays in our Wooden Hedgehog House, whilst birds might take refuge in a bushy tree or our Wooden Bird House. Put out water in saucers nearby for to keep them hydrated.
Watering your plants is one of the best ways to provide hydration for pollinators such as bees and butterflies, and watering your grass will keep a variety of worms and insects moist.
For some more summer gardening advice, why not check out:
How To Choose The Best Feeder To Attract Different Bird Species To Your Garden