When the sweltering heatwaves of the Australian summer start to hit, we tend to take extra precautions to protect ourselves from the sun, but our gardens aren’t always as lucky. 2013 was the hottest year on record in Australia and because of an increasingly dry climate, extended periods of drought, and rapid evaporation rates, summer is a challenging season for plants to survive through. Our gardens require a lot of good old-fashioned TLC from us in the summertime, but there are some easy ways we can prepare them before the temperature starts to climb to ensure they don’t end with a nasty case of sunburn.
Here are our top tips to help you put a stop to scorched lawns and dried-up flower beds, and keep your garden looking healthy all summer long.
Just add (sustainable) water
Water is a scarce natural resource in Australia so take note of when your local watering restrictions apply and follow them. Water your garden in the morning to give your plants time to dry out during the day, because there’s an increased risk of fungal disease developing if their leaves are wet at night.
You can also make the most of your water by re-using it. Consider installing a greywater system, or catch it in a rainwater tank for personal use outside of your local watering restrictions. You may even be eligible for government rebates to help assist with the cost of the installation of some sustainable watering systems.
Give your garden the best chance by planting trees and plants native to your area! With the advantage of being able to naturally survive in the harsh Australian summer, these plants require a lot less water and will often thrive in the dry climate. Why not consider redesigning your outdoor area into a water-smart garden?
Remember to include lots of local trees in your design for natural shade protection, which will help your plants, your family, and even your house keep cool in the summer sun. You can also buy lots of different types of specifically designed water wise plants that require less frequent watering. The best time to plant your new garden is in the period between late autumn to early winter to give them as much time as possible to establish themselves before summer begins.
Mulch, mulch and more mulch! Mulch is your garden’s best friend because it can reduce the soil temperature, slow down the evaporation process, help prevent weeds, and even add extra nutrients, which mean your plants can absorb as much of the restricted amounts of water you can give them during the summertime. You can even include some additional soil wetting agents or seaweed solutions to your mulch to break down the waxy coating found in some soils, enabling the water to better reach all the way down to the roots of your plants.
Lose the lawn
Did you know your lawn will drink up approximately 90% of the total water you give to your garden? Reduce your lawn size and you can reduce your water usage, it’s as simple as that! Figure out with your family how much of the lawn you really use and what can be replaced with a sustainable alternative like native plants, local trees, or recycled paving. In the areas where lawn is called for, always choose a variety that is heat and drought tolerant and requires the least amount of water like Couch, Saltene, Buffalo or Kikuyu. Remember, for a healthier looking lawn that will feel great beneath bare feet, let it grow a little bit taller (so the roots grow a little deeper) by setting your mower to cut at around 6cm in height. This way you can also reduce the amount of time you spend this summer toiling under the blistering sun as you won’t have to mow it as often!
Protect your Garden
You put a lot of love, effort and money into your garden and with a few small changes, you can make your garden healthy and waterwise this summer. Happy gardening!