Step 3 – Plant choice and location
Whether planning a new garden or updating an existing one, plant selection is essential. Choosing the right plants for the right location can be as easy as reading the information on its plant tag or getting local advice from staff at hardware or garden centres.
Cactus and succulents are drought-tolerant plants because of their rubber-like or coarse foliage and will survive on very little nurturing. Whereas heat and sun-sensitive plants such as hydrangeas and maples (Acer) need protection, irrigation, and nutrients to get through summer unscathed.
Other heat-tolerant plants include those with small grey or silver leaves. These plants get their coloration by having a hairy surface, an adaptation that helps reduce water evaporation. Good options include lavender, senecio, convolvulus or eremophila (a native option). Olive trees and rosemary are also good options in hot, sunny areas as their small but tough green leaves survive well in the heat.
Sun-sensitive plants such as hydrangeas can be grown in the garden by catering to their needs. Place them in shady positions or with morning sun, ensure they are well watered on hot days and feed them well so they are strong and healthy and can withstand the effects of heat stress.
Step 4 – Watering and irrigation
Watering plants wisely is the key to summer garden success. Set up a regular watering pattern to ensure your plants don’t dry out. Depending on the requirements of your plants and any local water restrictions, maintain a routine of watering less often but for a longer period. This ensures roots go down into the soil to search for moisture, nutrients and plant stability.
Water plants in the cool of the day, either early morning or evening, when there is less chance of water evaporation. Apply water to the soil, not the foliage, as this is where the roots absorb water.
While it’s good to keep your plants hydrated, it’s also good not to overwater them. Too much water, especially if the soil is poorly drained, can lead to root rot as the soil lacks oxygen and the wet conditions encourage the growth of soil pathogens. Check the soil near the plant’s roots and if it’s moist below the surface, hold off watering and test again the next day.
When using the hose to water plants, always check that the water is cool before applying it to plants. Water in hoses left in the sun heats up, so run it before directing the water onto the garden.