Master a Wilt Free Heat Wave

Written by Jana Otis on April 13, 2012 at 3:17pm

As the days get longer and the thermometer rises, you can count on one thing about summer—it will most certainly be hot, and more than likely be dry. But with a little garden smarts, you can keep your blooms wilt-free and your gardens looking fresh, even on the hottest of days.

  1. The right stuff. Use heat- and drought-tolerant plant materials when making your selections.  A little-known tip: The Reynolds Property Owner’s Association has plant lists you can pick up, or you can get them at most lawn and garden centers.
  2. Bigger is better. When planting in containers, use the largest size that will work for the area.  Large pots have more soil/root proportion allowing the plants to go longer between watering.
  3. Give soil an assist. Apply a soil additive that absorbs 300-400 times its weight in water, such as Terra-sorb®.  It releases the water slowly according to the plants' needs.
  4. Use LESS water. For established lawns and plantings you should water deeply and less often.  Watering for longer periods (the equivalent of a 1" rainfall) only once or twice a week encourages deep root systems that stay cooler and are more capable of withstanding the heat.  Shorter, more frequent watering produces shallow roots that succumb to the heat more easily.  In addition, too frequent watering can trigger stress-related problems such as bacterial and fungal diseases and root rot. 
  5. Be an early riser. Water in the early morning hours.  Watering in the heat of the day is less efficient, due to the evaporation of the water and it’s also harder on the plants. Watering in the evening can also create problems with disease.
  6. Be a drip if you have to. Utilize the proper watering tools.  A garden hose is inefficient, and doesn't give the grass enough water. Use a lawn sprinkler or irrigation system designed for turf. For shrubs and flower beds, drip irrigation is an easy, water-efficient method that delivers moisture straight to the root system.
  7. Irrigation? Check. If you have an irrigation system, be sure that the system is working properly with no leaks.  After the initial grow in period, make sure you change the settings on your irrigation controls to water less often.  The more established plants become the less water they need.  If you are unfamiliar with the controller for your system, ask your landscaper to demonstrate.
  8. Love your garden very mulch. Mulch the ground around the plants 1-2" deep (leaving the mulch away from the stem).  Mulch helps retain moisture and keeps soil temperatures lower.  You can use shredded bark and pine straw, but using rock as a groundcover is not recommended because it does not hold as much moisture and actually can raise the temperature of the soil. 
Tagged with Community, Gardening, Summer