Smart Gardening for Summer
Summer gardening is not for sissies. As the summer sun beats down making you long for air conditioning and liquid refreshment, your plants are feeling even more parched. That is why it takes a bit of skill to keep your plants alive through the summer. These tips and tricks should give you the quick lesson you need to be a smart gardener as the full heat of summer looms.
Organic mulch is a garden’s best friend in the summer. Mulch plays double-duty. It keeps ground temperatures low, insulating the root systems of plants; mulch also helps soil hold in moisture. Mulch can also be very attractive, so it’s no aesthetical burden to add to your yard. Choose from wood chips, pine needles, bark, and more.
Watering your yard incorrectly can be almost as damaging as not watering at all. Soil parched from the sun’s heat is hard and takes longer to absorb water, so brief, but intense watering can simply run-off. Overwatering can cause roots to rot. Slow watering is ideal. Unlike the other two options, it provides the perfect amount of water that can soak into the soil and be absorbed over time. A slow drip hose, buried beneath mulch, is the best way to deliver the water. Aim for three one-hour waterings a week.
When you walk outside and could swear your yard is channeling the Saharan heat, it is time to forget about helping your plants to grow. Rather, you just need to keep them alive. Summertime heat is often accompanied by low rainfall; this combination is, of course, far from helpful for your yard. As a gardener, do not be disappointed if your plants are not growing larger or more bountiful – and do not give up on them! Your watering is keeping them alive, not helping them grow. Get the plants through the hot part of the summer, and they should grow once temperatures cool off.
Shade trees are your natural defense against a hot, hot yard. Having these large trees strategically planted can do wonders for your other plants, as they keep root temperatures lower. Of course, the summer is not the best time for planting in the yard; so if you do not already have your shade trees, do not pull out the hoe. Instead, you can buy young, potted trees that are – and this is key – drought resistant. Use them now to shade your more vulnerable plants, and put the trees in the ground in the fall!
Garden in the Mornings
Your plants are not the only things at risk in the heat; you are too! For that reason, schedule your gardening time in the morning, before the yard gets extra hot. Be careful to not get so distracted by the garden that you are not paying attention to yourself; dizziness and fatigue are two of the first signs of heat sickness. A bonus here is that morning tending is great for your garden, as well. The plants will be happily watered before the heat hits midday.
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Image credit: Grandview Landscape & Masonry