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garden in summer
Summer is a glorious time for enjoying the outdoors, but it can also be a challenging time for gardeners. Warm weather can wreak havoc with plants and soil quality, as the heat of the sun and the lack of rain cause greenery to wilt and the earth to crack and erode. If you want your garden looking its best throughout the warmer weather, there are one or two jobs you should be doing now to keep on top of things.
Here we’ve put together a handy guide for maintaining a healthy, beautiful garden all throughout the summer months, with a list of the most pressing chores you could be getting on with.
Water plants morning and evening
To keep your plants and shrubs looking at their very best, you should ideally water them twice daily during the coolest periods. This is particularly important on those scorching days when you know the mercury is going to be high because even the hardiest of plants will begin to wilt in the heat. To check how much water your plants might need, test the soil a couple of inches beneath the surface and if it feels dry, then your plants need a good dousing.
Try to water plants and shrubs as close to the stem and base as possible, so you’re not getting water on the leaves where it may cause disease. Hose pipes are good for achieving this. If you water during the coolest periods of the day, the water goes directly to the plants themselves rather than evaporating in the heat, which is why gardening experts recommend early morning and late evening, when the sun isn't as intense.
Revamp your pots and containers
There is one quick and simple way you can give your garden a revamp without having to spend a fortune, and that’s by giving your pots and containers a spruce up. Deadhead any plants whose flowers are beginning to die off, so they can put their energy into new blooms and enjoy a second lease of life. Try adding colourful bedding plants such as lobelia, geraniums, marigolds and petunias, all of which are summer flowering and create a really vibrant display.
If you have pretty clay pots, you could try painting them in various colours or simply moving them around to jazz up a particular corner of the garden. For the really creative gardener, all sorts can be converted into planters – old wellington boots, washing up bowls, even disused wash basins! If you want to inject a little quirky personality into your garden, makeshift containers can be a fun way to flex your creative muscle and get the kids involved.
Clean up your garden furniture
Summer is the time when you want to make the most of your outdoor furniture, which means giving it a good clean up before you want to use it. Use clean, soapy water to mop down patio table surfaces and table legs, and do the same with any garden chairs you might have. If you have rattan garden furniture, real or artificial, remove any winter covers well in advance and give the materials a chance to breathe.
Most garden furniture comes with machine-washable seat covers, so wash them according to the instructions in much the same way you would your indoor homeware. If you get your outdoor furniture looking its best early in the season, then you know it’s ready for all those lovely family barbecues and long lazy evenings spent sitting out on your patio or deck.
Keep on top of the weeds
Weeding is the bane of most gardeners' lives, but the key is to keep on top of things by doing it little and often. If you allow weeds to get out of control then weeding the whole garden can seem like an impossible uphill task. Weeds quickly grow in warm weather, sucking up all those valuable soil nutrients and moisture which would be better going to your plants.
Even if you only do a few minutes a day, it’s a good way of seeing young weed shoots don’t become too well established. The best time to weed is just after it’s rained when the moist soil is looser and it’s easier to pull up the entire root. At the very least, try to tackle weeds before they have a chance to set seed or otherwise, you’ll see the problem multiply and make the task of weeding all the more difficult.
Take care of your lawn
Nobody likes to see a dry, parched lawn, so taking care of yours will prevent those unsightly brown patches which detract from the overall appearance of your garden. The RHS recommends that you mow your lawn twice a week throughout the summer months to keep it in tip-top condition, or once a week during particularly dry spells.
You should try and get the mower out a couple of days after it’s rained, as mowing wet grass can lead to it tearing and damaging the lawn. Lawns can usually cope without needing sprinklers or daily watering, but if yours looks like it’s struggling then you might want to introduce some fertilisers to boost its natural greenery. Always check the instructions and growing advice, however, as lawns need different nutrients depending on the season.
Protect Your Plants
As the summer season bathes your garden with an abundance of light and warmth, it's crucial that your plants are more than just surviving - they should be thriving. Summer introduces unique challenges like heat stress, intense sunlight, and increased pest activity, which can potentially compromise your garden's health. To keep your plants safe, ensure regular and effective watering, preferably in the early morning or late in the evening to minimise evaporation and facilitate maximum absorption.
Garden netting serves as a protective layer against various threats to your plants. It offers shade to them, reducing heat stress and sun scorch, and acts as a physical barrier deterring pests and birds. The netting type can be selected based on your specific needs - shade netting for sun-sensitive plants, bird netting to protect your fruits and berries, or insect mesh netting to keep pests away. This tool doesn't restrict your garden's growth, but instead, it creates a favourable microclimate, shielding your plants from harsh conditions while allowing them to flourish.
Slugs are a particular problem when your plants are at their most lush and succulent, but encouraging garden wildlife will help keep the slimy population down. Birds, hedgehogs and frogs are all-natural predators for slugs and other garden pests, so try to create a hospitable ecosystem for them by leaving some areas of the garden ‘wild’. You could also stop slugs in their tracks by using copper tape about the base of your planters.
Summer is the best time to really enjoy your outdoor space. Keep on top of these little jobs now and you’ll be able to make the most of the summer months, as we welcome the glorious weather.