With summer approaching and planting season in full swing, many of us are looking around at our landscaping to see how it endured a long winter of frost, cold temperatures, and even April snow. On the other end of extreme weather, record-breaking summer heat and smoky air is becoming a new normal in our region which can also take a toll on landscaping.
Landscaping is an investment of time and money that no one wants to see wasted. Also, you want your yard to look its best. When you see your new trees and plants wilting in the sun during the hottest time of the day it might be tempting to rush out and water them right then. However, their wilted appearance is a natural coping mechanism for withstanding high temperatures. You may notice they tend to perk up during the cool of the evening. Watering plants in the heat of the day is not an efficient use of water, because the water will evaporate quickly from the sun’s rays before all of it can reach the roots of the plants.
Avoid getting plants wet during hot sunny conditions because the moisture acts as a magnifying glass that can scorch and burn their leaves in the direct sun. It’s best to water the soil around the base of the plant so the water can soak into the roots. Watering with a soaker hose in early morning or evening will make the best use of the water. A layer of organic mulch around plants will help reduce evaporation so that moisture is retained during the heat of the day. Mulch will also discourage weeds and “feed” your landscaping by adding nutrients to the soil.
Shade during the hottest time of the day is also important, especially for vulnerable plants. Not only will it reduce the sun and heat on your plants but also keeps the soil cooler and retains the moisture from watering. If you’re growing fruit and veggies, adequate shade can prevent sunburning and scalding which causes the produce to rot prematurely. You can create shade by draping sheets or shade cloth over hoops or stakes or other supports. Beach umbrellas or shade canopies are another option. Blocking the direct sun during the heat of the day yet still maintaining air flow is the key. Partial UV protection shade material that allows some sunlight through is the best option with this strategy. For container gardening, move plants to shadier locations during times of prolonged direct heat.
According to many expert opinions you’ll read on gardening blogs, smoke from wildfires doesn’t damage plants as much as people might think. Humans are more at risk than plants in extreme heat and bad air quality. The first step to taking care of your yard and garden in extreme conditions is to take care of yourself. Wearing proper attire and tending to your yard during the coolest times of the day is most important. A good quality mask with a filter may be necessary on the bad air quality days we’ve been having during wildfire season. As much as your plants need water, so do you, so it’s important to stay hydrated while you’re working outside.