Welcome to summer! It’s the time of year most gardeners love best, a time when our outdoor spaces are bursting with colour and everything’s growing like mad. What’s to do in the garden through summer? Here’s some advice.
Fertilize your soil for dramatic effects
As long as you’ve planted your plants in the kind of place they most like to be, for example shade-lovers in a shady area, the best way to help them thrive is by fertilising the soil in the right way for the plant in question. Strong plants withstand the stress of summer heat and dry better. As well as adding a top layer of organic compost or other sustainable peat-free product, you can use liquid fertilizers like seaweed powder. Just don’t over-do it, since over-fertilization can be just as damaging as not enough.
Consider climate change when choosing new plants
Climate change means we can expect more extreme weather conditions, more frequently. The summer heat can easily dry out plants with shallow roots, so go for extra-hardy perennials, resilient biennials, heat resistant varieties and plants with large root systems able to withstand unusually dry, hot periods. They tend to need less watering, too.
Forget digging – go ‘no dig’
If digging gets you down, stop doing it this summer. The latest research reveals digging the soil exposes essential microbes to the air and sunlight, and kills them off. Instead, ad mulch to the surface of the soil, let it rot down naturally and let the microbes do their amazing thing.
Test drive ‘shade’ cloth
Shade cloth is really handy when the summer gets punishingly hot and dry, protecting new and fragile plants from the ravages of the heat until they’re strong enough to go it alone. It’s also useful for giving larger plants a well-needed break from excessive heat and dryness. Mulch is also a brilliant way to retain fertility and moisture in the soil, protecting it from harmful UV rays.
You can’t beat rainwater for watering plants. And it’s cheaper than tap water, especially if you’re on a water meter. Collect rain in a water butt and your plants will love you for it.
10 top tips for summer gardening
- Now’s the time to pinch out side-shoots on your tomatoes. Your lettuce, radish, other salads and early potatoes should be ready to harvest, and if you pick your courgettes now, they won’t develop into marrows
- It’s warm enough to put your hanging baskets out at this stage, and any containers you’ve kept in the greenhouse over winter and spring. June is also the perfect month to plant out your summer bedding
- Stake anything tall or floppy before it gets too tall or floppy!
- Prune your spring-flowering shrubs in preparation for next year
- Make a note to water and feed plants in pots throughout the summer
- Keep dead-heading your repeat-flowering plants so they keep flowering all season
- Keep on top of algae and blanket weed through the summer, for a healthy pond
- Treat your lawn to a lovely summer feed to boost its good looks and keep it healthy
- How’s your woodwork? If your shed or fencing is looking worse for wear, you need a few days’ dry weather to re-finish it
- Water wisely – A well-established lawn should require minimal watering during increased temperatures
Next time we’re looking at gardening tips for autumn. Come back to find out how to keep your outdoor space looking wonderful as the summer dies back and winter approaches.