Having breakfast alfresco, wearing shorts to work, spending the entire evening in a packed out beer garden, it’s safe to say this mammoth heatwave that’s happening all over the UK has its perks. But as the temperatures continue to rise, and with a temporary hose pipe ban coming into effect, our gardens aren’t as thankful for these sweltering climes. The absence of rain means parched plants, browning lawns and a struggle for Britain’s wildlife to find food, shade and water.
So to make sure your garden survives these crazy temperatures, resident gardener and senior plant buyer at Dobbies (opens in new tab), Louise Golden, shares her top tips for keeping your garden cool in the heat.
How to care for plants during a heatwave
1. Water strategically
Focus your watering on newly planted garden plants. However, avoid watering in the peak of sunshine and instead give plants a much-needed drink in the evening.
2. Move pots into the shade
Where possible move potted plants into the shade for periods of the day, or for beds and borders in extremely hot weather, why not create some of your own shade using a beach umbrella or parasol?
3. Focus on newer plants
Generally established border plants should have a good root system that is able to reach moisture deeper in the ground, so best to focus your attention on new or shallow rooting plants which will be under greater stress.
4. Water in the evening
Water in the evening so that the plants have time to drink up the water before the heat of the following day.
5. Focus on the base of your plants
Water directly at the base of plants, rather than over the top, to ensure the water gets to where it is needed.
6. Reserve water in cans and containers
If a hosepipe ban comes into force we will only be able to use watering cans, or similar. You could stand container grown plants on saucers of water and if it gets excessively hot, and move container plants into the shade.
7. Use plenty of mulch
For border plants, water well and then apply a thick mulch of organic matter to help retain the moisture in the soil.
How to care for lawns during a heat wave
1. Stop mowing
Mow less frequently and raise the blade heights to reduce the stress on your lawn.
2. Water wisely
Early morning and late evening are the best times of the day. That allows the water enough time to soak into the soil before the sun’s heat rises and speeds up evaporation.
3. You can use mulch on your lawn too
Don’t be shy when it comes to adding additional mulch, which provides a vital barrier to cool the soil and hold moisture.
How to help wildlife during a heatwave
1. Maintain a bird bath
Install a water feeding station for birds and other smaller wildlife to provide them with a drinking spot to keep them hydrated in the heat. Birds require water to drink but also to bathe in to help keep them cool, so a bird bath is a great addition to your outdoor area.
2. Keep your feeders well stocked
Putting out food on bird tables is something most people associate with the winter months, but food shortages can occur at any time and RSPB advise that ‘extra food on your bird table can make a big difference to the survival of young.’ High protein foods are recommended.
3. Create shade
Lots of bird table designs feature roofs, meaning some extra shade whilst feeding.