July is here and the heat is on. Add that to the dry spell many of us have had lately, and your landscape could start to suffer. Maintaining your gardens during the hottest months of the year can be extremely difficult. When the temperatures soar, it’s hard to get the motivation to go outside, let alone work in the garden!
I get it, and feel the same way. Over the years, I’ve come up with some hacks that I use to help keep my gardens happy through the heat of summer, and make life much easier.
Potted plants and container gardens
Container gardens will be the most vulnerable in dry, hot weather. Potted plants sitting in full sun may need to be watered twice a day. Ugh! But don’t worry, there are a few hacks you can try in order to ease their suffering during a heat wave (and help keep your sanity!).
Use plant trays – Put saucer trays filled with water under the pots, and allow the plants to soak it up from the bottom. Be careful not to leave the tray under the pot when it rains, or allow the potted plants to sit in water for extended periods of time.
Give them shade – Move potted plants to the shade during a heat wave, or if you’re going on vacation, so they won’t dry out as quickly. Don’t worry, sun loving plants will be fine sitting in the shade for a few days.
Utilize existing irrigation – If you have an irrigation system in your yard, you can temporarily move potted plants to areas where they will be watered by the sprinklers. This really cuts down on manual watering, and helps to give potted plants more consistent moisture.
Add drip irrigation – Consider installing a drip irrigation system for your potted plants. Drip irrigation systems are a great option to ensure potted plants are watered consistently. They’re easy to install yourself, and they aren’t very expensive either. Set the drippers up to run on a hose timer, and bingo! You have a self-watering container garden! Talk about low maintenance.
Perennials, shrubs and trees
Established perennials, shrubs and trees won’t need as much attention during a heat wave; they certainly don’t need to be watered every day. If your perennials are standing tall and looking healthy, then there’s no need to worry about them.
But landscape plants can suffer during a dry spell too, so keep an eye on them for signs of stress. Signs to look out for are drooping plants, and browning or crispy leaves. Plants that show any of these signs will benefit from a deep drink of water.
Water the plant slowly with trickling water directly on top of the root ball, allowing the water to soak in. Using soaker hoses is great for giving perennials, shrubs and trees a deep drink without losing water to evaporation and runoff.
While established plants should pull through just fine, dry weather could be fatal to new plantings. It’s very important to pay extra attention to newly planted grass, trees and plants during a heat wave or periods of drought. They will need to be watered more often, and never allowed to dry out completely.
By mid-summer, vegetable plants should be established enough to withstand a short dry spell. But it’s important to water your vegetable garden consistently. Inconsistent watering can cause long term damage to vegetable crops. Plants like tomatoes and peppers need consistent watering to avoid blossom end rot.
Inconsistent watering also causes vegetables like root crops and tomatoes to crack, and leafy crops to bolt. When vegetable plants are dehydrated, the stress could cause the plant to stop flowering, or even drop its flowers and fruit. And you definitely don’t want that to happen!
The easiest way to keep the vegetable garden happy during a heat wave is to get on a watering schedule. Put sprinklers or soaker hoses in the vegetable garden, and hook them up to a timer so they run at the same time every other day during a dry spell. Drip irrigation can also be used in the vegetable garden.
More tips to keep your gardens hydrated during the summer:
- Don’t fertilize plants during a heat wave, especially when the soil is dried out. Plants that are dehydrated will soak up fertilizer faster, which could increase the chances of fertilizer burn.
- Weeds compete with garden plants for water, so it’s especially important to keep the weeds from taking over during dry periods. Adding a thick layer of mulch to your garden beds helps to keep the weeds down.
- Don’t use sprinklers during the hottest part of the day because most of the water will evaporate before it reaches the ground. If you must water during the day, water at the base of the plant.
- Early morning is the best time to water your garden. That way the plants will have time to absorb it, and be well hydrated during the hottest hours of the day.
- Don’t transplant anything during a heat wave. Plants that are stressed by hot weather may not recover if they’re moved.
- Mulching the garden helps the soil stay moist and cool, and keep perennials, shrubs and trees hydrated longer. Ground cover plants are also great to help retain soil moisture.
Keeping plants hydrated during the dog days of summer can be a major chore, especially during a heat wave and periods of drought. I hope these tips will help ease the stress, both for you and your plants!
More posts you might enjoy
- Summer succession planting basics: What to plant in July and August
- 5 Time-saving gardening tips for the vegetable gardener
- Container garden maintenance tips: Help your plants thrive all summer long
- Summer loving: Savvy tips to keep your gardens in top shape
Leave a comment below and share your tips for keeping your gardens thriving during the heat of summer.