sum­mer gar­den­ing

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - NEWS -

Aus­tralia isn’t called the sun­burnt coun­try for noth­ing and with much of the land­scape ex­pe­ri­enc­ing drought-like con­di­tions in the sum­mer months, how your gar­den fairs will be de­ter­mined by your level of ‘green thumb’ ten­der lov­ing care.

Award-win­ning hor­ti­cul­tur­ist Matthew Car­roll is founder of the gar­den­ing blog Hor­ti­man and cre­ator of Hor­ti­pedia, an on­line gar­den­ing re­source.

Mr Car­roll pos­sesses a wealth of knowl­edge when it comes to lo­cal gar­den­ing prac­tices and of­fers his top tips on beat­ing sum­mer’s ma­jor gar­den­ing chal­lenges.


Sum­mer can be a tough sea­son in the gar­den.

With higher tem­per­a­tures comes an in­crease in wa­ter needs and pest pop­u­la­tions, as well as ‘wear and tear’ on ar­eas like lawns as peo­ple spend more time en­joy­ing their back­yards.

While we can’t con­trol the weather, we can help to mit­i­gate any neg­a­tive ef­fects it can have on our gar­dens.

Com­mon Sum­mer pests

With pop­u­la­tions of in­sect pests typ­i­cally ex­plod­ing over the warmer months it is im­por­tant to reg­u­larly check your trea­sured plants for early signs of at­tack.

This can be done while wa­ter­ing or sim­ply by tak­ing a re­lax­ing stroll in the gar­den in the morn­ing or evening.

Pests in­clud­ing aphids and cater­pil­lars can be re­moved by hand while thrips and mites will re­quire a spray to con­trol pop­u­la­tion ex­plo­sions.

When se­lect­ing a spray look for one that poses min­i­mal threat to ben­e­fi­cial bugs that help to rein in pest pop­u­la­tions by feed­ing on them. Your lo­cal gar­den cen­tre should be able to steer you in the right di­rec­tion.

Ben­e­fi­cial bugs in­clude good mites, lady bee­tles, pray­ing man­tis and even wasps.

You can ac­tu­ally buy ben­e­fi­cial bugs for your back­yard.


Mulch is an im­por­tant part of ev­ery gar­den, es­pe­cially over sum­mer.

The type you choose will de­pend mainly on the type of gar­den you have, as well as the time and ef­fort you are will­ing to ex­pend.

Gar­dens that are reg­u­larly tended and planted such as veg­etable patches and flowerbeds are best mulched with sug­ar­cane, pea straw or lucerne.

These mulches will slowly de­grade, even­tu­ally work­ing their way into your soil and adding to its or­ganic mat­ter. For this rea­son they will re­quire reg­u­lar top­ping up over the year, but they are worth it.

Those look­ing for a longer-term (but not nearly as ef­fec­tive) mulching so­lu­tion can choose ‘wood­ier’ mulches such as pine bark and chips, or even in­or­ganic op­tions such as grav­els and peb­bles.

These add lit­tle (if any­thing) nu­tri­tion­ally to the soil but they do help to in­su­late it and also in­hibit weed growth.

Ground cover

A liv­ing ground­cover will aid in pro­tect­ing the soil from ex­po­sure and ero­sion while also help­ing to in­hibit weed growth.

Ground-cov­er­ing peren­ni­als such as na­tive vi­o­lets, fan-flow­ers (Scaevola) and Brachyscome can be used in a na­tive gar­den.

Other liv­ing mulches can in­clude scented pros­trate herbs and mat­ting suc­cu­lents such as se­dums – it all de­pends on the cli­mate and as­pect.


Us­ing too much fer­tiliser over the sum­mer months can stress plants, es­pe­cially if there isn’t suf­fi­cient wa­ter.

Over sum­mer, use ‘con­trolled re­lease’ forms of com­plete fer­tilis­ers or or­ganic-based foods that nat­u­rally feed the plants over an ex­tended time.

Wa­ter us­age

The gen­eral mes­sage to gar­den­ers is to wa­ter deeper, but less fre­quently in the morn­ing or evening.

Your soil and plant types play a role in de­ter­min­ing ex­actly what is right for your gar­den.

Sandy soil re­quires more fre­quent, shorter wa­ter­ing times than heav­ier soil due to the fact that it can­not re­tain as much mois­ture.

The wa­ter-hold­ing ca­pac­ity of sandy soil can be greatly in­creased by adding or­ganic mat­ter such as com­post and ma­nure.

Take a sam­ple to your lo­cal gar­den cen­tre if you are not sure what type of soil you have and get ad­vice on how best to im­prove it.

You might also like to look into the many ir­ri­gation tech­nolo­gies now avail­able to make wa­ter­ing both eas­ier and more wa­ter ef­fi­cient.

Pre­pare for next Sum­mer

The heat of sum­mer is the ideal time to ask your­self “Where do I wish I had planted a shade tree 5-10 years ago.”

Track the sun to see where a tree could help to cool spa­ces such as be­d­rooms and en­ter­tain­ing area, or even help to im­prove the ef­fi­ciency of your air-con­di­tion­ing unit.

Fi­nal tips

Choos­ing plants suited to your lo­cal cli­mate will al­ways make life eas­ier over sum­mer.

This doesn’t mean you will be lim­ited to na­tive plants as many ex­otics are also highly suitable to var­i­ous Aus­tralian cli­mates and gar­dens – pro­vided they are non-in­va­sive.

Your lo­cal gar­den cen­tre is al­ways your best re­source when it comes to se­lect­ing the right plant for your gar­den.

Ar­ti­cle cour­tesy­

Pests such as cater­pillers can be re­moved by hand, while oth­ers such as thrips and mites will re­quire a spray to con­trol pop­u­la­tion ex­plo­sions.

The gen­eral rule for wa­ter­ing your gar­den is to wa­ter deeper, but less fre­quently in the morn­ing or evening.

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