High Temperature Summer Gardening Tips

Written by: David S

Gardening in high summer temperatures is always a challenge. The heat of summer can evaporate water held in the soil and the natural process of transpiration – the breathing of water into the air from plants – dehydrates plants as they try to protect themselves from the damaging of UV rays and higher temperatures. It is a thin balance and when that balance shifts or the water available to plants runs low, damage to leaves occurs and plant death is not far behind. 

There are ways to help plants survive the hottest days and the most brutal conditions that occur when the temperature rises for a day or a week. Below we discuss those techniques and tips. 

Gardening Techniques To Help Save Plants In Your Garden When Temperatures Rise
There is more at work on a hot day than just the heat that can damage plants. The hot is the tool, but other factors exacerbate the damage to plants from high temperatures. Focus on:
1. Preparing for High Heat 
2. Keeping Soil in the Ground
3. Blocking Wind 
4. Efficient and Functional Watering 
5. Plant Selection for the summer season and hot areas of your landscape.

Plant Recommendations – Plants That Can Withstand Hot Temperatures Besides cacti, other plants can tolerate high heat. Those include:

  • Salvias – Available in a wide range of species, colors, and heights.
  • Lantana – Full of color and hardy – The berries; however, are toxic.
  • Sedum – Joyful and available in a wondrous mix of textures, colors, and heights.
  • Viburnum – A lovely aromatic. 
  • Zinnia – Joy-inducing and full of colors – Perfect for cut flowers 
  • Butterfly Bush – Tall and a perfect tool for blocking wind, and eyesores, and even to help reduce noise pollution.
  • Cotoneaster – Prolific and beautiful – a lovely hedge plant or fantastic in containers. 
  • Juniper – Beautiful as a single plant or in a hedge. 
  • Pines – A variety of pines are available, and they offer a range of heights. 

Many plants that will stand up to the brutal heat of summer are also drought tolerant. Though for all plants to thrive, water is needed. If you plant drought-tolerant plants and give them sparse water, they will likely still survive, but they will not thrive. Drought tolerant plants go into a holding that shuts down growth and minimizes flowering and fruit or seed production. Plants that are struggling do not look their best. For that reason, if you want a landscape that looks lush and beautiful, it requires water.  

Watering techniques
Water is essential on hot days and during heat waves. Watering consistently is key as is when you water.

How You Water Matters
You have three basic ways in which to water your landscaping and garden areas. 
1. Hand watering 
2. Drip Irrigation 
3. Soaker Hoses 

Hand watering is the most labor-intensive – and it also makes it more difficult to keep the leaves and foliage dry. During hot weather, water on the leaves will burn the plant. So, you want to make sure that you saturate the ground by watering deeply, but without getting the plant wet. If you hand water early in the morning then the morning sun can dry the plant before the light becomes too intense. That method does not always work, but if hand watering is your preferred method of watering, then doing so early in the morning is key. 

Drip Irrigation is efficient – One of the best features of drip irrigation is that it waters the root zone of plants rather than large swaths of land. If set up properly, drip can reduce the labor of watering. There are options for basic systems, or you can add an electronic timer or even a time that will pair with your smart device. Smart times for drip systems enable you to monitor and adjust the watering schedule as needed. On hot days, you can schedule another watering or adjust the timing of watering to give plants more water.

You can even employ add-on features such as soil humidity sensors, which can alert you when soil moisture drops below a preset threshold. These safety features help you protect your plants during hot weather events. Drip irrigation systems can last for years, but you will need to periodically check the emitters to make sure they are not clogged. 

Soaker Hoses – are common in many yards. They need to be buried under mulch because most do not hold up well to UV exposure. Soaker hoses are easy to install and do not require very much experience. Most just simply connect to a faucet and work when you turn on the faucet. You can use soaker hoses to gently water planting beds deeply. Soak hoses can also be paired with a timer or smart watering system. Soaker hoses should be replaced annually and be prepared for leaks if they are exposed to the sun. 

Tools and Structures that Beat the Heat 
Providing water to plants during heat waves is an obvious conclusion. While plants need water on the hottest days, other tools help you use water more efficiently so that plants have access to it when they need it most. Sun is also not the only natural force that causes plants and the soil to lose moisture. The wind is also a powerfully drying force that causes plants and soil to lose water. Wind burns plants that do not have enough water to transpire – give off water through their leaves. The following tools are essential in helping you protect plants during the hottest days of summer. 

1. Shade Covers – If you think of a forest you see the most natural of shade covers. The tall canopy of trees stretches out overhead to shade the roots of the tree. It is there that the power of shade helps to protect the soil from evaporation. You can produce artificial shade by using shade cloth and a structure to hold it. Other shade structures include pergolas, awnings, and trees. Shade trees can stop the sun at certain times of the day giving shaded protection to swaths of landscaping. 
2. Wind Barriers – Wind, which is drying, can strip plants of moisture and the ground of water. Hedges and shade cloth erected to block the wind around sensitive plants are two ways to stop the damaging effects of the wind. Dense hedges, such as those grown from boxwood shrubs, are an example of a way to make a natural windbreak. You can also use burlap, shade cloth, and UV-resistant plastic fastened to stakes to create smaller windbreaks. 
3. Technology – soil humidity sensors are easy to use, and you can pair them with smart timers or apps that you can use to monitor soil water levels. If you set up alerts, from the humidity sensors you can access a smart timer from your phone to turn on the water for specific zones within your landscaping. If you pair that with intelligent water systems, you can avoid the damage that water can cause plants
during the hottest parts of the day. 

Green Thumb Nursery offers many ways to beat the heat and maintain a beautiful yard and landscape. Stop into any of our five Southern California locations and talk with our plant experts about supper-proofing your landscape.

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