Whether you believe in global warming or you don’t, there is one thing for certain. The summers during the last few years have been sweltering. In addition, the west is experiencing one of the worst droughts in history.
With a hot, burning sun beating down on your garden, no doubt you are looking for ways to protect plants from damage. Here are a few ideas.
- Use a lot of mulch. Many gardening experts suggest that light colored mulch be used because it reflects the sunlight best and assures cooler ground conditions. Mulch also retains water reducing the need to do a lot of watering.
- Do the watering early in the morning. You can use a sprinkler, but be aware that much of the water can be blown away or evaporate. Hand watering is good because you can regulate the moist for each plant and the process is much more efficient. Using a soaker hose is ideal because it can run under the mulch and the water can soak directly into the soil.
- Organize the plants in the garden according to their water requirements. Locate plants with low water needs together and group plants with high water needs together. This will permit more efficient watering.
- Cover plants with shade cloth. The cloth is available in a number of sizes, degree of sun blockage, and shapes. The rate of sunlight blockage varies among the cloths from 25 percent to as much as 90 percent. The cloth should be placed over the top of the plant so that it blocks out sunlight and not affect ventilation.
- Place transplants under the shadow of nearby plants. Keep in mind that transplants are most susceptible to the heat because the roots are shallow.
- Create windbreaks. A hedge or some kind of fence that permits airflow can block the wind from affecting the garden and assure that it doesn’t dry out the soil, plants, and mulch. If you use a fence shade it with a tree so it can’t get hot and radiate heat throughout the garden.
- Take special precautions for shrubs and trees. Shrubs and trees that are less than two years old are very susceptible to heat. To alleviate problems drench them with a slow trickle of water for between two and four inches a week. You can also mist several times per day. This helps to increase the environmental moisture.
- Don’t fool around with the soil. Disturbing the soil can release trapped water too soon. Also resist pulling out weeds. Instead, just prune them.
- Do not fertilize. The plants cannot absorb nutrients, so the fertilizer will just remain on the surface.
If the summers in your region are getting progressively hotter and not just a heat wave event, then you may want to consider including plants in your garden that thrive on the heat. Some you may want to consider include Lantana, which adds vibrant colors including yellow and pink, red and orange, and white and lavender; Oleander, which add pink, white, red, or purple to the palette of your garden; Periwinkle, which offers glossy green leaves and white, pink, and red flowers; Mexican Sunflower, with its distinctive bright yellow-orange flower; and Zinnia, which features all the colors of the rainbow except blue.