Take action now to save your garden – and local wildlife – from the heatwave

With scorching temperatures and a hose pipe ban coming into effect, get your garden through this heatwave with our top tips for keeping your plants and lawn healthy

Cottage garden
(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

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, 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.

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

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.

Hebe Hatton

Hebe joined the Real Homes team in early 2018 as Staff Writer before moving to the Livingetc team in 2021 where she took on a role as Digital Editor. She loves boho and 70's style and is a big fan of Instagram as a source of interiors inspiration. When she isn't writing about interiors, she is renovating her own spaces – be it wallpapering a hallway, painting kitchen cupboards or converting a van.