In between lazing in the sun and taking dips in the pool, there are a few essential outdoor jobs to complete for a healthy, happy garden at this time of year. The summer heat can be harsh, so it’s important to protect your yard to prevent it from wilting in the searing Aussie sun. Long, hot days and water restrictions in some areas can really impact your garden, however, summer doesn’t need to be the death of your backyard. Follow our simple tips and handy jobs to keep your plants cool, soil moist and lawn looking lush.
Whilst the north of Australia is frequented by drenching storms, many southern and central regions will bake dry, so watering is an essential summer job. With some regions on twice-weekly watering restrictions, it’s important to make those soaking sessions count. Watering early in the cooler part of the day is not only beneficial to you but your garden will thank you for it too. Watering before the sun dries everything out will ensure no water is wasted through evaporation and it reduces the risk of mildew and fungi attacking, as the garden will have time to fully dry out. Whilst an adjustable sprinkler like Hoselink’s Oscillating Sprinkler is ideal for watering lawns and garden beds; pot plants and veggie patches should be watered by hand to ensure they get the soaking they need. Pot plants are prone to drying out more quickly so allow them to sit in a bucket of water for an hour or two to fully saturate the soil, then drain. If you can only water occasionally then it’s important to water deeply when you can. Hoselink’s Root Waterer & Soil Breaker is one way to do this, particularly around fruit trees, whilst nutrients can be added to your usual watering regime using a Fertiliser Spray Mixer bottle to nourish and give your plants a boost when they need it.
Keep critters at bay
Veggie gardens are a feeding ground for critters such as fruit flies, aphids, caterpillars and grasshoppers. Whilst it can be tempting to reach for insecticides, these can be toxic and harmful to your soil and produce. There are other more environmentally-friendly ways to deal with pests, including using a sticky fruit fly trap, a synthetic lure utilising a feed attractant or by protecting your crops with a fine net. You should also pick off any rotting fruit and ensure you collect fallen fruits quickly, to avoid attracting unwanted guests.
Reach for the seaweed
Seaweed fertiliser, usually made from kelp, is packed with instant minerals, complex carbohydrates, nutrients and beneficial enzymes including nitrogen, magnesium and potassium essential for encouraging robust plant growth and energy production. Seaweed is one of the best fertilisers you can use on your plants and can help with everything from encouraging new growth and early flowering, improving the quality of crops and conditioning soil to improving yields, activating compost and assisting in defending plants from soil-borne diseases. Seaweed can be diluted and sprayed on plants to allow them to take food directly through the leaves or it can be added to the soil in a powdered form. Thanks to its natural plant hormones, seaweed can help prevent transplant shock when moving plants around the yard and can improve the germination of seeds by soaking them in a seaweed solution 24 hours before sowing. Fruit and veg plants, lawns and annuals will benefit most from a feed at this time of year, whilst soil can start to be enriched ready for autumn planting.
Keep pot plants cool
Plants in clay or terracotta pots are more susceptible to overheating. Whilst giving them a good soaking as often as they need will help, a light mulching and positioning out of direct sunlight will see them through the summer. Standing pot plants in a saucer of water can encourage root rot, so try standing in a saucer of moist sand instead to keep roots cool and healthy.
Let your lawn grow
It can be tempting to mow the lawn on a weekly basis in summer, but the trick to avoiding a brown, bare patch of grass is not to scalp it. Set your lawn mower to the highest cutting setting to keep your turf as long as possible. This helps to suppress weeds and will wear much better over time. Feeding your lawn with a seaweed tonic twice per month and scattering over a light covering of manure before watering will keep your lawn looking green, lush and healthy. You can also use a thin layer of mulch (about a knuckle deep) laid over moist soil to prevent it from baking dry.
After the spring flourish has finished and growth has slowed down it’s a great time to get the shears out. A light trim is all that’s necessary but will make for a tidy yard right through to autumn. Hoselink’s 2-in-1 Hedge Shears make pruning hedges easy thanks to the built-in anvil lopper for cutting thick, woody stems, sharp Teflon-coated Japanese steel blades and telescopic handles for extra reach.
Compost, compost, compost!
It can be tempting to neglect your compost heap in summer as, it’s true, it can become smelly. However, it needs to stay damp to continue breaking down plant matter and to stop creepy crawlies from moving in. The combination of moisture and summer heat will have your compost decomposing faster than ever, but you must make sure to get water all the way through. The best way to do this is to turn the compost with a garden fork, watering as you go. However, be careful not to soak the compost, it should feel damp rather than wet. Lawn trimmings and plant cuttings make fantastic activators and if you keep the moisture levels just right you should have a brilliantly rich compost ready to use at the end of summer. You can cover your compost pile with a plastic sheet to help keep moisture in but be careful it doesn’t get too hot or it will stop decomposing and become very pungent!
Protect your plants
Mulching throughout the garden and on top of plant pots can help to keep moisture in, keep plants cool and keep weeds at bay. There are many different types of mulch, which you can read about here, but pea straw and coarse bark are particularly effective, especially for veggie patches. If you have young seedlings you may want to invest in some woven shade cloth for extra protection against the sun’s harsh rays. These cloths can also be used for dust control and protection against the elements. With different thicknesses and varieties available, you can tailor the amount of light penetration your plants will receive for a relatively cheap investment, giving them the best chance of survival in summer.
Watch water levels
If the weather is especially hot it can start to cause water levels to drop in garden ponds and water features. Monitor them regularly to check it doesn’t drop too drastically. Whilst it’s easy enough to top up a water feature, a pond is full of living organisms that require a little more care. If your pond levels drop by more than one inch it may be cause for concern but contact your local aquatic centre before taking action. Topping up with mains water can introduce unwanted minerals into the pond, so a better source of water will be required. Your local experts will be able to offer the best advice for your set up.
Keep removing dead flowers, especially from rose bushes, to encourage new growth. You can do this by pinching off blooms with your fingers or by using pruners to cut back at the stem. Deadheading invigorates growth and helps the plant refocus its energy into growing new blooms.