In Britain, we’re never happier than when we can moan about the weather. And while we might be grateful when we don’t get a washout summer, the opposite can cause some serious stress on the garden. Heatwaves are great for when you’re on the beach with a pina colada in hand, but not so wonderful when your hydrangeas are dehydrated.
But, luckily there are some simple ways to look after your garden when the heat hits. From repurposing the parasol to saying no to mowing, here are five ways to protect your garden during a heatwave
In extreme temperatures, it might seem logical to give your plants lots more water, but there’s actually a delicate balancing act between offering hydration, and oversaturating them.
Firstly, get your timing right - plants need to be watered when the temperatures are cooler so that they have the chance to drink up as much water as possible before the ground gets too warm. The best time to do this is in the early morning before the garden heats up.
When it comes to how much to give them, less is actually more. If you give your plants too much water in the heat it can hinder them acclimatising to the warmer weather, and can cause them to get stressed. To check if you need to water your plants, stick your index finger into the soil near to the root. If the soil is wet below the surface then the plant doesn’t need more water.
Add a layer of protection
Just like we reach for the SPF when it’s hot, you can help to protect your plants by adding a layer of mulch - it’ll act like a barrier against the sun, and will also help to relieve the pressure the sun puts on the plants and flowers, by retaining some of the moisture in the soil.
Apply a layer at least a couple of inches deep on top of your soil to protect your plant’s roots.
There’s probably nothing you fancy doing less in the heat than mowing the lawn, and the good news is it’s actually beneficial not to. That’s right - we officially give you the go ahead to do nothing. Keeping the grass a little bit longer helps it to protect itself because the blades will cast shadows on other blades as the sun moves around the garden. Also don’t worry about watering your grass even if it starts to look a bit brown and dishevelled - it’ll return to its former glory once the weather cools down and we have some rain.
If you want to give it a helping hand come autumn, use a lawn care fertiliser to aid disease resistance and cold hardiness as well as improving drought tolerance.
Mix in some media
Adding growing media to your soil helps to increase water and nutrient retention, which is essential in hotter temperatures. If you have container plants, then the addition of some growing media could be particularly beneficial, as these plants can struggle in the heat to keep the soil moist.
Sort some shade
Parasols and beach umbrellas are usually there to stop us scorching while we enjoy an al fresco lunch, but they can be put to other uses too - like protecting your plants from the intense rays of the sun in a heatwave. It might not be possible to shade all of your plants, especially if you have a large garden, but anything that’s delicate and requires a lot of TLC should be your priority - you can use umbrellas, tarpaulin, garden parasols or even your bbq cover to create areas of shade where your plants can enjoy a little respite from the sun.