With Sydney’s sweltering summer conditions finally hitting our shores this January, you may be finding that your plants are suffering. Perhaps your soil is dry, the plants are showing signs of wilting, or even worse, the leaves are turning brown.
But don’t despair! If you catch the problem early enough, you can follow these simple summer gardening tips to protect your garden and ensure that they survive.
Top 6 Summer Gardening Tips
- Improve soil quality: If you have an established garden, add some compost to the topsoil around plant roots and lightly turn it into the soil. Next, sprinkle a granular wetting agent around the plants, which again helps the soil hold moisture. Finally, mulch the garden well – this will help to hold 80% of the moisture in keep the plant roots cooler. TIP: A finer mulch is better, e.g. lucerne, sugar cane or fine pine bark.
- Keep your soil moist: Maintain moisture throughout the soil by watering up to twice a day if necessary. Water early in the morning when the water can best infiltrate the soil and again in the early evening (when the sun is NOT on the plants) if the soil is feeling crusty. Make sure your plants have time to dry before nightfall because damp leaves can lead to fungus problems. Water at the base of the plants for maximum absorption.
- Install an irrigation system: Installing a sprinkler system makes watering easier and saves you time. Most come with a timer, so you can set it to water whenever you want and for as long as your plants need. Plus, you can save water by setting up zones to water areas more often that get a lot of sunlight or reduce over-watering in shaded areas. If you have an existing irrigation system, make sure it’s working correctly and repair or replace broken pipes or sprinklers. Also, check that the water is covering your plants, not just footpaths or driveways.
- Wilting may be unavoidable, but don’t make the mistake of wetting your plants leaves in hopes to relieve them. Water acts as a magnifying glass and intensifies the sun’s effects, which can cause the leaves to burn. For this reason, avoid watering your plants during the hottest part of the day and never when they are in full sun.
- Reduce the competition: Your garden is full of thirsty roots, competing for every bit of water they can find so make sure there are no unwelcome weeds sprouting up. They will syphon water away from your preferred plants, slowly choking them to death. The best way to combat weeds is to pull them out when you go to water your plants before too many can take root. A little work here and there will produce better results than waiting for your garden to be consumed.
- Don’t fertilise during a heat wave: When your plant is in summer survival mode, it’s not looking for extra nutrients and isn’t prepared to make use of them. Introducing these into the soil will risk further stressing your plant. Wait until it cools down a bit for your next feeding!
- Wait to prune: During summer, you’re sure to find damaged leaves and stems but in order to avoid causing unnecessary stress, it’s best to hold off from pruning until after the heat wave passes and the temperatures get a bit back in the normal range.
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