Tips to help protect your garden during a summer heatwave
Sunshine and heat have finally arrived after what can only be described as the most miserable winter and spring we have experienced since moving to France eight years ago.
Whilst blue sky and warmth soon erases the memories of the dreary weather, it brings with it a whole new challenge; dry ground and wilting plants! If plants could talk I know what they’d be saying right now, and it wouldn’t be polite! After months of rain, our poor garden has gone from waterlogged to bone dry in less than a week!
So how can you help your garden survive a sudden heatwave and the blistering summer sun? Here are a few tips that can be implemented now and ones that should be incorporated into your gardening routine earlier in the year so your garden doesn’t wilt at the first signs of sun.
- Add organic matter to the soil when planting out. Any organic matter added to soil will improve the soil structure thus helping it to retain water. Organic matter added regularly not only provides the plants with nutrients but helps to conserve water within the ground during hot weather.
- Don’t pander to your plants. When the plants are young you can establish a watering pattern and they will learn to adapt to it. If you live in an area with hot summers, don’t over water the plants when they are young and they will learn to adapt to the watering routine, making it less of an ordeal for them when the temperatures soar and rain stops. I apply this to my vegetable plot as much as possible, never overwatering courgettes and beans when they are young, yes they need water, but don’t go mad and they will learn to survive a heatwave.
- Water plants in the morning or evening. Watering at these times gives the water plenty of time to soak into the ground rather than just being evaporated away before it has had chance to reach the roots. I like to water my vegetable plot early in the morning, so it has plenty of water to get it through the hottest parts of the day. Water close to the ground and roots, there’s no point in watering leaves plus you run the risk of them scorching as they dry in the sun.
- Know your vegetables and plants. Not all vegetables and plants need regular, daily water, even during a dry spell. Vegetables with deep roots such as carrot, parsnips and potatoes will be more resilient than the likes of tomatoes and lettuce which have surface roots and will dry out quicker. Always pay particular attention to potted plants and hanging baskets.
- Use mulch on flowerbeds, shrubs and trees. A mulch spread on the surface of the soil will help to prevent water evaporation.
- Don’t panic into watering your grass. Grass is very resilient and good at dealing with a lack of water. Even if it turns brown, don’t worry, it’ll return full of life as soon as the rains arrive. Mow less frequently during dry spells to reduce damage done to the surface of the grass.
- Shade and ventilate your greenhouse. The glass will magnify the sun’s rays, drying out and scorching plants. Make sure the greenhouse is ventilated as well as possible and shade it with a net if you can. During the hottest days, move potted plants outside. If like me you have plants in the greenhouse which can not be moved outside, keep the floor of the greenhouse damp to help bring down the temperature.
Enjoy the sun, enjoy your garden, but please when the sun is blazing down be sensible and admire it from the comfort of some shade and limit the amount of gardening you do.
If you have any other tips for helping your garden through a heatwave, please do share them by filling in the comment box below.
July 2, 2015 @ 7:02 am Phoebe @ Lou Messugo
Some excellent tips here. We struggle with lack of water every summer, but this spring has also been very dry. Our “lawn” has turned brown earlier than usual but that’s OK, I think a perfect Wimbledon lawn in Provence looks wrong! I’m always amazed when I see municipal gardens being watered during the middle of the day in the heat as it’s such a waste of water, it’ll all just evaporate off. Our local town gardeners should read your tips!! Thanks for linking up again Katherine
July 2, 2015 @ 7:19 am Katherine
Oh my, in the middle of the day, that’s crazy! I much prefer rustic looking lawns myself – i.e full of weeds, you can’t escape them in the countryside, so you just have to embrace them!
June 30, 2018 @ 6:14 am Gilles Carré
I appreciate really your comments, even I understand only 95% of English words without Google or Reverso ! Today, I am going to spread old manure around dahlias and roses, watering lesser as usual, except pots and baskets, and let the garden withstand during the scorcher which arrives !
July 3, 2015 @ 1:42 pm BacktoBurgundy
Yep, I think I over watered my courgettes when young, but I’ll try to remember good practice for next year. Thanks for some great tips.
August 12, 2016 @ 9:59 am My Top 8 Gardening Jobs for August | jardin-perdu
[…] 2. Watering. During the hottest month of August watering is one of the greatest gardening challenges. I’m not one for pandering to my plants, I only water when I think they truly need it. It is important however to water your vegetable patch and pots on a regular basis. Vegetables need regular watering to help ripen and plump their produce, in the potager pay particular attention to courgettes, sweetcorn, beans and peas. My gourds and butternut squash are developing well this year, despite receiving very little water. Water in the evening if you can so that it can be properly absorbed into the soil rather than being evaporated by the sun. I water my pots and hanging baskets both in the morning and evening, with little depth of soil, they dry out quickly. You can read more about how to help your garden survive a summer heatwave in my earlier blog here. […]