Elevated temperatures and longer days have seen keen gardeners up and down the country tentatively return to their front and back lawns, as the invigorating scent of freshly cut grass once again fills the air – it’s summer.
And now that it’s here there are a few things that all green-fingered enthusiasts would do well to remember. This handy summer gardening checklist will keep you right, ensuring that your lawn looks resplendent, your rockery irreproachable and your flowers in full bloom. Here’s our first ten, with more to come soon!
Just as you and I need regular hydration when the thermometer rises, plants do too – in fact, they perspire 85% more than humans, meaning they’re often even thirstier than we are! Try to water in the early morning to minimise the amount of moisture lost to evaporation and to discourage the growth of mildew. For best results, invest in an irrigation system equipped with a timer. If you’re looking to make watering your gardening easier, have a look at Gardena’s excellent product range – when it comes to water management they truly are number one.
Constantly using tap water to keep your garden hydrated can be a costly business – even more so during impromptu hosepipe bans when wielding one can incur significant fines. On the other hand, rainwater is so cheap it literally falls out of the sky and actually benefits plants much more than the stuff coming out of our sinks. Buy yourself a sturdy water butt to make sure you always have a plentiful supply to hand.
You don’t need to be defending a castle to feel the benefit of moats. Digging a small ditch around the periphery of your plants will do wonders to redirect rainfall, spray and other moisture towards their roots when they need it most. Engineering channels like this is a particularly effective strategy if your soil is in danger of becoming compacted or dried out – and it’ll be a satisfying job if you’re using the latest hand tools or spade to help you along.
Do you have many acid-loving plants in your back garden? Azaleas, camellias, gardenias, rhododendrons and the suchlike thrive when the pH of their soil is highly acidic, so give them what they want by tipping leftover tea and coffee grounds onto the area around their base. You’ll be amazed at how they respond to the caffeine kick.
Weeds not only steal precious nutrients and moisture from the soil, they also encourage insects and propagate disease around the garden. If you catch them while they’re still young, they’ll prove easier to prune and do minimal damage. What’s more, nipping weeds in the bud prevents them from sending out too many seeds – dandelions can produce up to 2,000 seeds on an annual basis, while lamb’s quarters can dish out as many as 150,000 seeds a year!
Not only do dead and dying flowers look unsightly, they can also provide a haven for unwanted pests and fungi. Remove wilted and faded flowers on sight to ensure that theThe pretty but annoyingly fecund dandelion. plant can divert its energies to newly flowering shoots, rather than trying to resurrect the horticultural equivalent of Lazarus. It might sound callous, but you’ll be doing the plant a favour in the long run!
Avoid the temptation to drop your lawnmower to a lower level during the summer months. Sure, it might seem like you need to tackle the job less often, but cutting a lawn too low (known in the business as “scalping”) can lead to brown or bare patches. Instead, you want your blades of grass at an optimum height of three inches to provide shade to the soil below and reduce the evaporation of moisture and the desiccation of the land. Fancy a new lawnmower for summer? Browse our full range here.
Again, many house-proud homeowners like to scoop up the bundles of freshly cut grass brought about by mowing in order to achieve a more pristine aesthetic. However, leaving the clippings to lie where they fall can act as a hassle-free form of mulching your green spaces, thus protecting the soil from the harsh rays of the sun in another way and retaining moisture in the grass itself.
With the plants sweating so much during warmer months, their ability to suck up the good stuff found in many fertilisers is all but nullified. In fact, using granular feed can actually result in lawn burns – make the switch to a liquid fertiliser to ensure you’re still nourishing your plants as best you can. Incorporate a soluble fertiliser into your watering cycle and aim for the base of the plant to maximise absorption from the roots up. Why not try one of our garden sprayers in your new routine?
There’s nothing quite like coming in an afternoon of hard labour in the garden – but getting rid of soil from underneath your fingernails can be a seemingly impossible task. Avoid ever having to do it in the first place by raking your nails across a bar of soap before you begin your green-fingered exploits, effectively sealing them against any unwanted dirt and grime. Then, after you’re done, use a nailbrush to remove the soap and hey presto! You got your hands dirty but kept your nails clean.