Protect your plants from hot weather with garden guru Meredith’s tips.
How to keep your plants cool in the heat.
DESPITE STILL BEING IN THE SEASON
of spring, warm days and the occasional really hot one leave you in no doubt that summer is on our doorstep. But with effective shade, clever watering, mulch and a clever trick or two up your sleeve, you can combat the effects of warmer weather on your garden.
USE PASSIVE SOLAR ENERGY IN YOUR GARDEN AND NOT JUST IN YOUR HOUSE
To shade your home from the summer sun, yet still allow winter warmth, grow a deciduous tree on the north-west side. A deciduous climber growing over a pergola will provide fast and effective shade in summer but let light in during winter. Pop-up shade and covers may look strange but, when the temperature spikes 40 degrees Celsius or more, covering your garden – especially susceptible plants – with an old sheet can save them from damage.
WATER SMARTLY OVER SUMMER
This means making sure that every precious drop gets into the root zone of plants and stays there. You’ll need to check that water isn’t simply running off the surface because many soils, including those in pots, have this tendency. To remedy, use a product surfactant like Saturaid – or even some soap flakes rinsed in water – to help break down the waxy surface of some soils and help water to penetrate. To beat evaporation, water your plants early in the morning or late in the day. And once the water is in the soil, keep it there for as long as possible by mulching with about a 10cm layer of straw, wood chips, Lucerne hay or any other mulch.
Living shade A deciduous vine like wisteria or grape will help beat the heat.
FROM THE EXPERT
Meredith Kirton is a horticulturist, landscape designer and author of several books on gardening.