When it comes to climate, Australia has one of the harshest in the world and the nation’s capital is no exception. Throughout summer, the territory witnesses extreme temperatures, dry heat and little to no rainfall for weeks, which can wreak havoc on plants, flowers and lawns. Despite these tough conditions, your garden doesn’t have to suffer under the Canberra sun. Here’s our survival guide to keep your garden stay cool and healthy this coming season.
Preparation is key
The best way to prepare your garden for the Canberra summer is with a good clean and tidy up. Start by removing weeds, leaves and debris from lawns and garden beds, and pull up old, dead or dying flowers and plants. Give plants and flowers a prune if required and remove old mulch from garden and flower beds. It’s important that your plants are able to absorb as much water as possible and old mulch and garden debris can get in the way of this.
When it comes to preparing your lawn for summer, many gardening experts suggest to let it grow out. While it might look a little unkempt, long grass keeps your soil cool and helps to retain its moisture by acting as a barrier to the sun. If you do have to give your lawn a trim, try not to cut it too short.
One of the most effective things you can do to protect your garden beds and plants in summer is by reducing their exposure to the harsh Australian sun. Start by moving plants and pots into shady areas, such as under pergolas, or in a shed, garage or even inside. Installing shade cloths or screens to block out the sun can be effective and budget-friendly options.
Every type of plant and flower has different needs when it comes to temperature and light; one plant might be fine to stay inside for all of the summer, while another may need to stay outside but be moved in and out of the shade during the day. Be sure to research your plant’s needs or ask your local garden specialist for advice.
As the mercury starts to rise, it’s important to keep your garden hydrated so your lawns, flowers and plants have the best chance of surviving the sweltering weather. Each plant has unique water needs, so consider grouping like-for-like plants together in beds or pots.
Before getting the watering can out, test moisture levels by inspecting the soil. If you notice that your soil is dry then you will need to take steps to increase your watering. Depending on the size of your garden, installing a watering system with a timer can help manage different areas and watering requirements across your yard.
Adding mulch on top of your soil is a helpful way to keep moisture levels high and temperatures low. In preparation for the impending summer heat, consider adding nutritional supplements to your soil, which can boost growth and help with moisture retention.
When watering plants and flowers in pots, water them slowly and ensure that all of the soil is soaked until it starts to run out of the drainage holes at the base. Use a saucer under your pot to avoid water loss.
Remember, just because it’s hot outside doesn’t mean your plants and flowers need triple the amount of water. Overwatering can be just as damaging as underwatering. Wilted leaves do not necessarily mean a plant or flower is in need of water; this could just be an indicator of stress due to exposure to heat and the plant may simply need some shade. Do your research and seek the advice of your local garden specialist.
When watering your garden, always be mindful of your environmental impact and avoid water wastage. Don’t forget to check the ACT water restrictions at www.iconwater.com.au.
It might come as a surprise but the type of pot you have might be detrimental to your plant’s health in summer. For example, terracotta pots are known for retaining heat so even on a mild day the soil may still be warm from the previous day’s high temperatures. Terracotta is also a porous material so pots are more likely to suffer increased water loss from evaporation. Try an alternative material such as ceramic, fibreglass, resin or plastic.
Timing is everything
If you need to tend to your garden opt to do so outside of peak heat times. Working in your garden during the hottest time of the day can be tiring and you are unnecessarily exposing yourself to the sun. Also, if you are watering your garden during the day, your efforts will likely go to waste as moisture will evaporate from your soil quicker than it is absorbed. The optimal time to water your plants and flowers is in the early morning or late afternoon before the sun sets. This gives time for absorption but also allows for foliage to dry. If you water plants in the evening then your plant’s leaves and foliage may stay wet overnight and cause fungi and mildew to grow.
For all of your property needs, contact your local Peter Blackshaw office.