Keep gardens and green spaces in shape during a heatwave
Summer sunshine and cloudless skies make for perfect conditions for enjoying the outdoors. However, warm weather and a lack of rainfall can start to take its toll on your garden – especially when this weather isn’t expected, or a ‘temporary use ban’ (also known as a hosepipe ban) is put in place by your water company.
Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to help keep plants blossoming and blooming, vegetables cropping and lawns healthy even during a hot spell.
Here are our 12 top tips.
Tools & materials required
How to care for lawns
Temporary use bans can put a halt to using a sprinkler in your garden. Fortunately, this needn’t mean that your lawn suffers.
During dry spells, your lawn may start to lose its lush green colour. Don’t worry, as soon as rainfall returns it will green up again. There’s no need to sow additional grass seed, or water daily.
Avoid cutting grass very short.
Setting your mower to cut lawns a little longer means that the soil beneath is less likely to dry out. This will help to keep it greener for longer.
How to look after vegetable beds, borders and planters
Helping your plants to make the most of every watering is the best way to keep them fruiting, cropping and flowering as normal when warm weather is forecast. It’s important to ensure plants have enough access to water when the weather is dry as they can become weakened and more susceptible to pests and diseases
Target your watering
Use a watering can, or nozzle attached to a hosepipe, to direct water at the roots of each plant. As the leaves shelter this patch of soil, the water is less likely to evaporate – so it’s more likely to reach the roots of the plant.
Water early in the morning, or during the evening
The cooler temperatures coupled with shady conditions will give plants more of a chance to absorb water before it evaporates.
Make good use of rainwater and recycled water
During hot spells – in particular if a temporary use ban is in place – it’s especially important to make use of water from sources other than the tap. A water butt pump can make it easier to use stored rainwater. Simply attach a hosepipe to use rainwater at mains pressure.
If you don’t have a water butt, recycle water from dishwashing by using a washing up bowl and pouring the finished contents into a watering can.
Automate your watering
If you’re able to use a hosepipe, you can set up a simple automated watering system in a greenhouse or vegetable bed. It’ll ensure that water reaches the base and roots of plants easily, meaning you’ll need less to keep your plants hydrated.
For maximum benefit, use late in the evening to minimise evaporation.
Pick ripened fruit regularly
Ripe crops can consume a lot of water – so keep picking, preserving and freezing.
This will help the fruits which are yet to reach maturity get as much of the available water as possible.
How to care for greenhouse crops
Good weather can sometimes result in greenhouses becoming stiflingly hot. Whilst warm conditions can help to ripen some crops, if temperatures remain high plants can dehydrate quickly and leaves may scorch.
Keep a thermometer in your greenhouse
A maximum/minimum thermometer will show you the higher temperature reached during the day.
It can be helpful if you’re not home in the early afternoon when temperatures peak, as you’ll be able to plan whether you’ll need to take cooling actions the next morning.
Open windows and doors
Allowing a cool breeze into your greenhouse is an easy way to moderate temperatures. Install auto-vents, as these will open as the day warms up – but without you needing to take action.
They’re great if you’re away from home during the day, or have a greenhouse on an allotment.
Watch out for scorched leaves
If you spot brown patches on leaves during warm conditions, be aware that your plants may be scorching. High temperatures can impair the ability of some plants to absorb water and tell-tale brown patches will show (especially at the tips of leaves).
Using a greenhouse shade kit can provide help to protection against the midday sun, and keep things cooler on very hot days.
How to help out wildlife
It’s not just plants and vegetation that may struggle during a heatwave. Wildlife can find it hard to find water and shelter – but thankfully there are simple things you can do to make their lives easier.
Top up bird baths regularly
Water can be hard to find during dry spells, and locating a bird bath in a shady spot will offer relief to thirsty birds and will minimise evaporation. Change the water regularly, as it may stagnate easily in this weather.
If you don’t have a bird bath, you can improvise one using a large plant pot saucer. Weight it down with a large stone if it’s made from plastic, and fill.
Check on your pond
Keep the water level topped up where possible to help pond life, and reduce the likelihood of small animals falling in.
Falling water levels can create unexpected steep drops, so adding a small branch or plank as a ramp can help animals safely find a drink.