As Americans prepare to celebrate the 4th of July this weekend, many of us will enjoy fireworks and cookouts in parks and backyards. It also means that summer is here and temperatures are on the rise. Folks out in the western states are hitting record highs so early in the season. And excessive rains are causing severe flooding in the East. Regardless of where you are, the summer heat and sun is sure to wreak havoc in your garden this season.
Here are a few things you can do to help keep your garden growing, even in the harshest summer conditions.
Spread a Layer of Mulch – a 2-3 inch layer of organic mulch helps the soil retain moisture and helps reduce the rate of evaporation. It also helps to suppresses weed growth which if allowed to grow, take up precious water and nutrients from your plants. Natural mulches will also break down over time and provide nutients back into the soil. DON'T FORGET: When it comes to your trees, avoid piling mulch up around the base of the tree and trunk. I can damage your tree by inviting fungus or unwatned pests. Better to mulch out than up!
Convert Spray System to Drip – The key to proper watering is a slow and steady drip that has time to penetrate the soil. Over head sprinkler system have come a long way in being more efficient but are still prone to evaporation and excess run off. Converting a planter with a drip system can be quick and inexpensive. You'll see the return on you investment in your monthly water bill too. Less water and healthier plants, even in the hot summer months. For more information, check out the EPA WaterSense website.
Water Early Mornings – a good long soak in the early morning hours allows more water to absorb in the soil and minimize water evaporation. Avoid watering in the afternoon or hottest parts of the day as the majority will evaporate quickly and never penetrate the soil or reach the plant's roots. Another reason early mornings are best is the air is typically calm with less wind. Spray from sprinklers is more likely to water your lawn instead of being carried off to your neighbor's!
Set Lawn Mower to Highest Setting – If you have a lawn, keeping your grass taller is better for its overall health. Taller grass will help it retain moisture in the soil during extreme temperature and heat. Think of it as a thick blanket on top the lawn's root system. It protects the soil from the hot mid-day sun, will require less water to keep it green and saves you some green in your utility bill too.
Use Native Plants – Natives and adaptive plants can survive on less water or tolerate excessive rains and humidity. And these days your choices are not limited to cacti or succulents either. Your local garden centers offer a wide selection of native plants. Just look for lables that state low water or thrive in the local climate. Your county extension can provide you with a list of natives for your area.
There you have it, 5 easy ways to help beat the summer heat in your garden this summer. What other things do you do to help plants survive in your garden when it's hot? Share it with us in the comments below!