How to care for the garden in the heat of summer

From GARDENA and YATES Brand Ambassador Sarah the Gardener. Summer is the season the garden is at its best. It is the season we long for during the cold winter months and work hard to prepare for in the spring. However, a summer garden isn't a set and forget thing. It needs plenty of care and attention as this season can be harsh on the plants with its high temperatures and lack of rain.

But with some practical tips, some clever products and regular attention the garden can flourish throughout the summer months bringing joy and a bountiful harvest.

The first and most important thing is to ensure the garden gets the water it needs to thrive. In an ideal situation, plants need a consistent supply of water so all of the processes within the plant that result in healthy and abundant growth are uninterrupted. For most gardeners this comes from a hose or watering can, which can easily become a chore, so here are a few tips to make things a little easier.

Tips for summer watering:

  • You don’t need to water every day. A deep watering every few days is better than a short sprinkle every day as this encourages the roots to go down deep into the soil where they are protected from the drying effects of the hot sun. Although plants in containers will need checking more often as they can dry out a lot easier.
  • Adding Yates Waterwise Water Storage Crystals to the soil in garden beds and containers along with a good deep watering increases the time needed between waterings and improves the plants chances of survival during dry times. The crystals can absorb up to hundreds of times their own weight in water which is released slowly as the plants need it.
  • If a particularly hot and dry spell is expected, a combination of a soil wetter and Yates Waterwise Ready to Use DroughtShield will help to protect the garden from the harsh drying effects. The soil wetter helps water to penetrate deep into the soil and contains seaweed and trace elements to promote healthy growth and ensures any water the garden receives gets right down into the root zone. The DroughtShield protects the leaves from excess evaporation so slows moisture loss from the plant, which also means less watering is needed.
  • Irrigation is another good option for watering the garden regularly and reliably. The ideal time to water the garden for maximum soil absorption and the least evaporation is first thing in the morning. Have a timer can mean this can be taken care of before you even get out of bed. This can be as simple as a timer on a tap attached to a dripper hose or sprinkler. Always make sure there isn’t a hose ban in place in your area.
  • A more complete irrigation system can be well worth setting up. A good irrigation system can provide ideal coverage for the garden, delivered in a way to suit the needs of the plants with drippers or sprayers. Most systems are straightforward to install. And when combined with an electronic water controller, the garden won’t even know you aren’t there. A GARDENA Water Control Bluetooth® water controller takes it one step further, allowing you to operate your irrigation from an app on your smartphone and can suggest ideal watering programmes to suit your garden.
  • If an irrigation system isn’t right for your garden or you have a balcony, deck, patio, terrace or smaller garden area with no outside tap available, consider a GARDENA Aquabloom solar-powered micro irrigation set. Using the power of the summer sun to drive a small pump and timer, the AquaBloom can regularly water up to 20 plants from a bucket of water.
  • A good thick mulch is an effective way to lock moisture into the soil. The key is to start with damp soil, so water heavily or wait until after a good rain shower before applying. The best mulches to use are organic based and can break down over time, so top up often to ensure a good deep protective layer on your soil. Don’t put mulch up around the stems and trunks of plants to avoid the risk of rotting.
  • Keep the weeds down in the garden, as these can compete with your plants for moisture and nutrients and increase the need for watering. By weeding often and taking care of them when they are small, it is a much more manageable task than letting them get out of control.
  • In a dry summer don’t forget about your trees. Newly planted trees should be watered weekly during the summer months, but a mature tree also needs that same constantly moist soil as all of the other garden plants. A common recommendation suggests a tree needs about 38 litres of water for every 2.5cm of its trunk diameter every week. If a tree experiences drought stress, often the effects won’t show up for several months.
  • Thirsty plants are stressed plants and can become a magnet for pest and disease, so while regular watering is very important, it is a good idea to do regular pest and disease checks so you can treat at the slightest sign of any possibility problem to nip it in the bud and avoid the potential for disaster.
  • Recycling water from the house is an effective way to save water over the summer months, especially if there is a shortage. Make sure you use household products that won’t harm the plants or the micro communities in the soil. Greywater, from bathrooms and the laundry isn’t recommended for use on the edible garden.