From long, sticky workdays to grumpy children and exhausted pets, heatwaves can be hard on all of us - and that includes our gardens. This year, British gardens have seen record temperatures, hosepipe bans, and only the briefest sputtering of rain. While it can be frustrating to see your garden struggling after all the love and care you have poured into it, it’s important to remember the impact of drought on wildlife. In times of drought, mains water is supplemented from wild sources, affecting wildlife who may already be finding the summer difficult. But there are several key things you can do to save your garden from the impact of the dry weather, all while being kind and gentle to the environment.
First things first…
When the summer is hotter than a sauna on the surface of the sun, it’s important to be realistic, and know that there may be losses. Better to pour your efforts into saving a few of your favourite plants, than lose sleep over trying to save them all. Anything easy to grow from seed or cutting should be left and grown again next year. You could even make a sort of Noah’s arc for your perennials, saving one of each to divide or take cuttings from next spring - and being a little less vigilant with the rest. It’s important to keep plants watered where possible; after all, flowers provide nectar for bees and other pollinators. But there is no need to go overboard. Make sure you do your research and find out which plants need water every day or two, which are best watered once a week, once a fortnight, and which you may want to avoid watering altogether during a drought.. In general it’s better to water less often, but to water thoroughly when you do. Most will be ok with a thorough soaking every ten days or so. Do the same in your veg patch, saving well-loved tomato plants and ditching thirsty edibles like lettuce.
In a drought, we all have a responsibility to reduce water use and be as clever as possible with the water we do have. Placing dishes, plates, trays, or anything else you can find under your plant pots can help you hang onto every drop of rainwater so it’s there for parched plants when they need it. While anything with chemicals is a no-no, if you use natural bath products and/or dishsoap, don’t be afraid to use bathwater or dishwater in your watering can for ornamental plants. This means that you will only have to use clean water on your edibles. Again, soak plants occasionally, rather than watering every day. Even plants that look as though they are wilting in the midday sun have a habit of bouncing back as soon as evening falls. You can always move pots into the shade. Remember to keep up your weeding as well; the less competition your plants have for water, the better.
Don’t worry if your lawn is a shadow of its former self. Brown lawns may look unsightly, but don’t be tempted to water them. Lawn grasses have evolved to survive drought by going dormant. We promise they’ll be back when the rain starts falling again in autumn, giving you the chance to reseed any worn patches. If your grass is still green, lucky you! Raising the height of your cut can help keep your grass in a reasonable condition for the next few weeks until your recovery period.
How can you be sure your garden is ready for next summer? Think about attaching a water butt or tank to your drain pipes now, ensuring you’ll have more access to rainwater for future droughts. Notice which of your plants are coping well, and plan to bring more of them in your next planting session. Especially drought-tolerant plants include hylotelephium, achillea, fennel, rosemary, sage, salvias, meadow wildflowers and the ornamental grass Jarava ichu. Autumn is a chance for slow, restorative maintenance (before we have a whole different set of weather-related challenges on our hands!).
In a perfect world, the best results will be achieved by feeding ahead of any type of environmental stress such as a very hot or dry period. An all-natural feed like Imperium Organics can also be used to help plants recover from stress, including frosts typically occurring during late autumn through early spring if required, breathing new life and strength into stressed plants quite literally overnight. Regular feeding will boost plant health and fitness and build protection against stressful growing conditions. Child, pet and wildlife-friendly, suitable for vegans, Imperium Organics helps revive struggling plants in just 24 hours, gives you more flowers than you’ll know what to do with, and helps you grow plants, fruit and veg up to twice as big.
We hope you enjoy the sunshine as things cool down over the next few weeks.