How to take care of your plants in summer

With its combination of hot and dry weather, summer can be really tough on your garden. To make sure it continues to thrive, Rachael from Bunnings Greenlife Projects offers her suggestions to help protect your plants and get the best out of your garden during the hotter months.

Improve soil quality

Every garden needs good soil, especially when the conditions are hot and dry. Adding organic matter is a great way to enrich the soil. So, when you plant, add some compost or soil improver to enhance your soil’s wettability and water holding capacity. It will also help with the transfer of nutrients to your plants. 

Introducing organic matter to your soil also creates a healthy home for microbes and other beneficial organisms like worms. It helps keep the soil healthy and protects root systems from pests and diseases.

If you have an established garden, add some compost to the topsoil around plant roots and lightly turn it into the soil. Also, mulch the garden well. Covering your soil with straw, bark, pebbles or other ground covers will help stop water from evaporating in the heat and keep plant roots cooler. 

Keep your garden watered

A regular watering schedule is vital to ensuring a lush, healthy garden all summer. Whether you’re using a hose, sprinkler or irrigation system, it’s best to water your plants in the early morning. This gives the water time to soak into the soil and reach the roots of your plants before it starts evaporating in the heat. It also means that your plants will have enough water to sustain them during the day. 

If you don’t want to get up that early, then water in the late afternoon or early evening. This also reduces evaporation and gives plants some time to absorb water without the hot sun. Make sure your plants have time to dry before nightfall because damp leaves can lead to fungus problems.

Install some irrigation

Installing a sprinkler system makes watering easier and saves you time. Most come with a timer, so you can set it to water whenever you want and for as long as your plants need. Plus, you can save water by setting up zones to water areas more often that get a lot of sunlight, or reduce over-watering in shaded areas.

If you have an existing irrigation system, make sure it’s working correctly and repair or replace broken pipes or sprinklers. Also, check that the water is covering your plants not just footpaths or driveways.

Pots and hanging baskets generally need to be watered more frequently than ground plants. You should line concrete and terracotta pots or paint them on the inside to prevent water loss. Keep your pot plants in cooler spots and place saucers underneath to retain water.

Choose your plants wisely

When deciding what to plant in your garden for summer, it’s best to choose plants that don’t require a lot of shade or moisture. There are plenty of hardy natives and water-wise plants that flourish in hotter weather.

Add a touch of shade

If you have any plants that prefer cooler weather, then installing some shade is a great way to help them get through summer. Vegetables tend to love the sun but not too much, so a bit of shade will help them cope with hotter conditions. Consider a shade cloth, tarpaulin or even a shade sail to block any direct sunlight.

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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