After spending time caring for your garden, you want to ensure it is thriving whatever the season. Summer is the time we can enjoy our garden the most, with long days and warm evenings, however, no matter how much you enjoy your garden during the sunny months, a heatwave can be deemed harmful to not only your garden but for the wildlife that is living in it.
Here are some tips and advice to ensure your garden is flourishing even during a heatwave.
As with other parts of your garden, your pond will need regular maintenance. One of the things you need to keep an eye on is the water level, as water will evaporate during a heatwave. You should be using rainwater from a water butt to top up your pond every week or so. If you don’t have access to a water butt, then you can use tap water however, you need to leave it up to 24 hours before adding it to your pond to ensure that the harmful chemicals have evaporated. Once the 24 hours is up, add it to your pond slowly.
When it comes to your pond plants, there are a few things you can do to ensure your pond stays as healthy as possible, including keeping the surface of ponds clean by removing floating weeds. After they have been removed leave them on the side overnight so that anything stuck in them can return to your pond. In addition, dead, dying or diseased plants can rot and discolour the water, therefore you should take some time during a heatwave to focus on your pond plants and remove any flowers or leaves that are no longer healthy. You should also keep an eye on oxygenators and ensure they don’t fill up more than one-third of the pond and algae, which can spread quickly and take over a pond, impacting the wildlife you may have living there.
It is recommended that during a heatwave, you water your plants and beds first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. This is because it allows enough time for the water to soak into the soil before the sun rises and causes the water to evaporate.
When watering your plants and vegetables ensure that it penetrates the roots, as short surface waters will only encourage the roots to stay near the surface. If they do this, they are more likely to be damaged and dry out.
For watering, this is the perfect time to start using your water butt. It’s a cost-effective option that will save you water and help to decrease your environmental impact during a heatwave. Although we recommend using this all year round, it’s great to have and draw from if any water bans come into play.
There are several things you can do during a heatwave to ensure that your garden wildlife is still thriving.
- Birds – Make sure your birdbaths are always topped up with fresh and clean water. Not only could it be a vital lifeline for your feathered friends, but birds also need water to bathe in to keep their feathers in good condition. It is also important for you to top up your bird feeders little and often, as the heat can make searching for food quite difficult.
- Hedgehogs – Water may be sparse during the hot weather, therefore it’s important that there is water accessible for all your garden wildlife, not just birds. Hedgehogs and other small mammals may also be struggling to find water during this time; therefore it is recommended that shallow water bowls be left out for them. It is also advised that garden ponds are created with ways in which garden wildlife can easily climb out if they have fallen in. As well as this, hedgehogs rely on moist soil to dig for worms and other insects, however, due to the heat; this might be particularly difficult, as the soil will dry up. Hedgehog food or wet cat food are good options for them to enjoy during the heat.
- Bees and insects - Add shallow water bowls with plenty of pebbles so garden insects and bees can get to the water without drowning.
- Shade – Uncut areas of your garden will provide much-needed shade for wildlife to shelter. This can include uncut grass, wildflowers, as well as log piles, which is an ideal space for amphibians to take cover in.
You don’t need to stop mowing your lawn during a heatwave, but you should reduce the amount you do it. It is also recommended to adjust your lawnmower blade to a higher setting. This ensures that the grass stem is a little higher to provide maximum shade to the soil. After you have mowed your lawn, don’t collect the grass in a grass box, but rather let those clippings drop back on to your lawn to form mulch, that will help to conserve soil moisture.
During a heatwave, it’s not uncommon for a hosepipe ban to put in place. An established lawn does not have to be watered routinely and its colour will return when the rain returns. However, if your lawn is starting to show stress during the hot weather then you can use water from the water butt. Investing in a water butt also means that you don’t have to worry about a hosepipe ban. If the ground is particularly hard, use a garden fork to poke holes into the ground to help the water seep through.
During a heatwave, you need to take care of your potted plants; therefore it’s a good idea to move your plants out of the sun as much as possible. You can place the plants into shady areas of your outdoor space or create a temporary shelter to help to keep them cool.
Add organic matter to your soil to help to retain moisture and cool the soil. It will significantly lengthen the period between watering your plants and improve the soil. This is recommended all year round, but don’t be shy about adding a little more mulch when the temperature rises.
If you are growing vegetables in your garden, don’t leave large areas bare and rather plant companion plants that will not only shade your vegetables and protect them from the sun, but that also share mutual benefits that can boost the vegetables and plants health. You can read more about companion planting in our blog post about being an eco-friendly gardener.
You don’t need us to tell you how dangerous the sun can be for your health and well-being and during a heatwave, you need to take care of yourself.
If you want to enjoy your garden, but still protect yourself from the sun and heat, the easiest way to do this is to invest in a canopy or a gazebo. We have a wide range available in various different styles that will not only will they provide shelter and shade, but they’ll quickly become a focal point in your garden. These are a must if you want to enjoy your garden during the hot weather and most importantly, don’t forget to stay hydrated!