How to keep your lawn and garden alive over summer
30 November 2017 Kristie Hayden
There’s nothing in the world like it; lying on your back on a lush lawn, bathing in a hot Australian summer. But while you can head inside when the sun gets too hot, your garden is destined to ensure the sizzling conditions.
Luckily, with a bit of knowhow, the yard can thrive over summer months. An efficient watering, pruning and mowing regime is key and, done correctly, forms the boot camp to ensure survival under the harshest conditions.
Resist watering too often
Multi-award winning Melbourne-based garden designer, Ian Barker, recommends training your plants and lawn to receive one long soaking of water every week during summer.
“They’ll drop their roots down lower (chasing the water),” he says. “Whereas if you water every day, you’ll just have surface roots everywhere and if something goes wrong, the plants can die in a couple of days.”
Water retention powders, wetting agents and mulch can all aid in holding moisture in. In the absence of a “trained” garden, returning from holidays could reveal a backyard shrivelled and unkempt. There’s good and bad news in this scenario. The bad news is, there’s no quick fix. The good news is, with proper care, Eden can return.
“People look at the surface and think it looks dry, but underneath it can actually be saturated,” Barker says. “Dig a test hole 300 millimetres deep and if it’s moist then it’s really good.” If not, water it and then leave it a few days. Try to resist drenching every day, as plants and lawn can drown.
Avoid harsh pruning and mow regularly
Barker also advises avoiding harsh pruning when the garden looks dry and overgrown. A canopy, in any condition, will provide shade, holding moisture in. Pruning back to wood will only dry the plants out. With lawns, the same idea applies.
“The higher you cut the grass, the better,” Barker says. “It keeps that moisture underneath.”
Melbourne based Jim’s mowing and gardening contractor and Honda ambassador, George Labbad, recommends mowing once a week, “whether it looks like it needs it or not,” he says, “because you’re encouraging growth and reminding the lawn it’s alive.”
Labbad also recommends cutting lawns on the highest setting to retain nutrients. “Especially if it’s overgrown,” he says. “If you try to cut it low, you end up having a distressed lawn. It’s the same with your shrubs and plants if they’re overgrown. Just cut back gradually. Come back a week later and do it again, until it’s back to where it should be.”
Many people will relate to a time when starting the mower took an eternity. You’d hurt your shoulder, strain your back and, eventually, wind up trading the mowing for a cold drink. Reliable tools are every gardener’s best friend. “You want something that’s going to start first time and make the job easier and more enjoyable,” Labbad says.
Tip-pruning encourages growth and maintains those protective canopies that are vital for a healthy summer garden. The Honda VersaTool uses multiple attachments to perform an array of gardening chores efficiently under the muscle of one reliable power source.
Choose the right plants
Along the coast, many gardens thrive in summer due to the popular use of robust, drought tolerant natives.
Peter Shaw of Ocean Road Landscaping has worked with Victoria’s natural surf-coast environment to create award-winning coastal gardens for over twenty years. When planting, he advises homeowners to consider their garden’s perennially sun-baked areas, consider exposed windy areas and shaded protected areas. Plant the garden with predominantly drought-tolerant plants and position these to protect your statement plants.
Although the cooler months provide optimum conditions for new plants, if you must sow in late spring or summer, Shaw recommends water crystals to help young plants survive. He also suggests sowing a warm season grass such as Kykuyu or Couch.
“Kykuyu will give you the toughest lawn that will bounce back with a drop of rain,” Shaw says. “You must mow and edge it regularly to keep it in its place. A low volume drip system is my favourite type of garden watering. This saves water in the long run. Sixty minutes once a week is usually enough for a low water-use garden with a drip system.”
Follow this advice and you’ll enjoy every moment of summer in your flourishing backyard.
Nov 23, 2017 Source: Allhomes