Top tips for keeping your outdoor space under control and looking good this summer.
Summer gardens are an important component of leisure time for many of us. Alongside the beautiful weather, it’s also a bountiful season for backyard flora. However, as Tristan Eastaugh, Product Manager at Cyclone explains, the hotter weather can also be tough on our plants. “It’s important to take care of your garden in the summer months, and with some careful planning and the right tools, you can also promote healthy growth throughout the season.”
Here are her top 5 tips for a sizzling summer garden:
Mulch mulch mulch!
A fresh layer of mulch helps to conserve moisture and suppress weeds. In fact, mulch can reduce evaporation from the soil surface by as much as 70 per cent when applied correctly, so it’s a vital ingredient in obtaining a water-wise garden. It can also help to prevent soil erosion and even-out temperature variations.
First, it’s important to give the area a good weed and soak, then spread a 5cm layer of mulch evenly over the soil. Organic mulches such as straw and bark break down over time, helping to nourish and improve the soil. Just avoid placing them too close to the stems of plants to avoid rotting.
Deciduous trees that bear summer fruit benefit from a good prune as soon as the crop is harvested. Plants that bear new wood this season, such as peaches and nectarines, are also good candidates for a summer prune. Summer cuts heal quicker, so there’s less chance of disease entering the plant. It also helps promote a bumper crop for the following season, as it gives the plant plenty of time to develop lots of new fruit-producing growth instead.
Start by removing any dead, damaged or diseased limbs. Then tackle any structural flaws like crossing or rubbing limbs and branches that grow inwards. Finally, cut back one third to one half of all growth made since spring.
Prolong perennial colour
Similarly, pruning faded and dead flowers reaps great benefits at this time of year. Summer is the height of perennial colour, with vibrant species like Rudbeckias, Salvias, Phlox and Blanket in bloom. This action of ‘dead-heading’ not only keeps plants looking tidy, it can prolong the flowering of some perennials and encourage another flush of flowers.
Ruffle up the roses
Most of us think of rose pruning as a winter job, but if you want to get the best out of repeat-flowering varieties, such as Autumn Damask or Gypsy Boy roses, then summer pruning is a must. After each flush of flowers simply prune off a third of the growth in a rounded shape using a pair of straight hedge shears. Yes hedge shears! It’s that easy. The straight blades are perfect precise pruning, while the stem cutter (known as a notched blade) on the shear is ideal for managing larger stems with ease. You’ll be rewarded with another flourish of blooms six to eight weeks later. A great idea is to time your pruning ready for them to re-flower for a special event or garden party.
Improve your soil
Warmer weather is great for giving your compost heap an extra boost. It’s also an environmentally friendly way to recycle the additional kitchen and garden waste we get around the festive season.
Adding compost to your garden beds helps nourish and enrich the soil by encouraging healthy microbial activity, as well as improve its structure, drainage and moisture holding ability. Add a good balance of ‘green’ matter, like vegetable peelings and lawn clippings, and ‘brown’ matter like dry leaves, shredded newspaper and straw to the compost mix.
For the best quality compost turn your heap every three to four days – air is important to the decomposition process and turning re-heats the pile to keep it in an aerobic state, as well as eliminate odours.