As the planet warms and the growing season becomes longer and warmer, gardeners are faced with lots of challenges in keeping crops, ornamentals, trees and lawns protected from excessive heat and sun. In this article, we will share 11 tips to help you keep your plants safe and well-cared-for during scorching hot weather. Read on to learn more on how to protect garden from extreme heat.
How to protect garden from extreme heat
1. Use native plants as ornamentals. Trees, shrubs, wildflowers and other plants that grow naturally in your area will adapt better to increasing heat. These types of plants also need less care and less water than imported ornamentals. Additionally, they typically have natural resistance to common local pests and plant diseases.
2. Use mulch to keep soil temperatures low and to keep moisture in the soil. Light coloured mulch reflects heat better than darker mulch. Shredded tree leaves make very excellent mulch. Straw or thoroughly dried grass clippings also make good mulch. If you are using grass clippings, don’t let them touch plant stems as the clippings can get very hot as they decompose. Also, be advised that grass clippings add a lot of nitrogen to the soil. This is good for leafy plants, but not good for flowering and fruiting plants.
3. Water by hand with a watering can or use a soaker hose or a hose laid on the ground near your plants to water slowly, early in the morning. Watering close to or on the ground, in the early hours of the day helps prevent evaporation of valuable water. For even more water savings, lay soaker hoses directly on the ground and then cover them with mulch.
4. Avoid watering with a sprinkler because you lose a great deal of water to evaporation when you spray it through hot, dry air. Additionally, getting plants’ leaves wet can lead to leaf scald and problems with fungal infestation.
5. Set up shade cloth to protect your plants from excessive sun exposure. You can get many different sizes and configurations of shade cloth in a wide array of shade factors to suit your needs. The shade factor indicates the degree of sunlight the material will block. Shade factors run from 25 to 90 percent. Generally, sun loving plants will do well with a shade factor of 30% while more tender plants (e.g. salad greens) may need a shade factor of 50 or 60 percent. When you set up your shade cloth make sure it is properly secured so that it won’t blow away or fall down on your plants.
6. Whenever you can, avoid setting out new transplants during a heat wave. Established plants are typically able to adjust a bit during times of heat wave, but new transplants are very susceptible to overheating and drying out.
7. If you must set out new plants, use your taller, established plants to provide them with shade. Plan your planting so that you can use one row of established plants that are near harvest to shade a new row of transplants. Ideally, your established plants should provide protection for a week or two before you harvest and remove them, allowing your now-established transplants more access to the sun.
8. Don’t fertilise your lawn or your garden while a heat wave is ongoing. When it is very hot, your plants will not be able to absorb nutrients well, so use of fertilizer is a waste.
9. Mow your grass high. Set your lawn mower or strimmer at it’s highest setting and only mow a couple of times a month (if that). Tall grass keeps the soil shaded and cool and holds moisture in the ground.
10. Help your beneficial fauna survive and thrive. Keep a birdbath or pond and/or set out dishes of water for birds, lizards, frogs, toads, terrapins, bees, butterflies and other beneficial garden dwellers. Remember to put a few stones in water features to prevent having your little friends drown.
11. Anticipate the hot weather and try to be ready. If you don’t trust your local or national weather forecasts, consider buying a home weather station.
The ability to cope with heat waves is a valuable skill for gardeners the world over. Refer to the tips presented here to protect your yard and garden from extremes, provide steady water in a conserving manner and provide good stewardship for beneficial garden fauna.