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Your Garden & Landscape in Extreme Heat

By jessica July 21, 2021

Watering your garden in heat

If you have been struggling with the heat this summer, you are NOT alone. Early heat waves have affected huge swaths of the country already and do not seem to be letting up any time soon. As many of us have been finding different ways to beat the heat this season, at Tilly we’ve also been thinking about your garden in extreme heat. What can we do about our landscapes are doing in these scorchers.

Water your Front Yard & Backyard (properly and as needed)

After hours of baking in the heat, your plants (grass included) will be as thirsty as you are! We have to adjust our watering routines depending on what is happening weather-wise. A simple test can be done to determine if your plants need more water. Feel the soil about an inch or two below the surface. If it’s dry, that is a good indicator that you have thirsty foliage.

Soak your landscape deeply

A good, hearty, soaking is better than many quick sprinkles. Be sure to really saturate the soil because much is lost to evaporation in the heat.

Water your plants and lawn early or late

The hot sun will cause the water on the surface of your soil to evaporate quickly. To combat this, you should be watering your grass and plantings either early in the morning or late in the day as things cool off. This will give the roots a chance to soak up as much as they can. Avoid watering at the hottest parts of the day to save on using large amounts of water.

Water Your Garden in Summer Heat
Photo Credit: Gardening Etc.

Protect Veggies and Sprouts in Summer Heat

Some plants, especially some produce and younger plantings, can be scorched in extreme heat and sun exposure. Tomatoes, squash, peppers, and legumes may drop their leaves or blossoms due to heat stress. Try setting up a shade cover, which will be available at most garden centers. Alternatively, you can create your own using stakes and a piece of landscape fabric or even a bed sheet!

Mulch to protect your plants

Mulch is invaluable for most planting beds. It provides a constant cycle of nutrients, combats soil loss, and tends to leave a garden looking neat and cared for. It also does wonders in shading soil from hot, direct sunlight and retaining moisture in the soil. It acts as a barrier of little woodchip sponges above the soil surface, taking the brunt of the evaporation so that the soil can thrive. When it comes to regions experiencing extreme heat, mulch is a must.

*Pro Tip: create a circular mound of mulch around the trunk of your trees and woody shrubs, leaving at least a few inches to a foot of space from the trunk. Then, water into the center. The mulch mound will keep water from running off, and ensure a slow-percolating soak to the tree’s roots.

Check out our Mulch 101 blog post for more information!

Mulching Your Garden in the Heat
Photo Credit: The Spruce / Michelle Lee

Move Potted Plants Indoors

For any potted plants, consider moving them into shade or indoors entirely during the hottest days. Their above-ground roots are much more vulnerable to the heat than in-ground plants which benefit from lower soil temperatures. If your pots contain vines or can’t be moved somehow, consider creating shade conditions as mentioned above.

Monitor Leaves for Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Wilting Leaves Need More Water

Dried-up looking leaves will be the first symptom of a plant needing more water. Act fast! Give plants with wilting leaves a good, hearty watering.

See the Signs of Sun Scorching

Some plants can simply fall victim to too much sunlight. This will show itself in yellowing or browning leaf margins or spots. Find a way to provide shade for the plant. Damaged leaves will likely drop off, but can later be replaced. Additionally, check the plant’s recommended sun exposure and consider relocating it once it has returned to a healthy state.

Consider Xeriscaping your Yard

Do you live in a place where extreme heat either already is, or is becoming, the norm? If so, you will likely benefit from following the principles of xeriscaping. This means designing low-water landscapes with plants chosen specifically to thrive in your local climate. Denver Water developed the Seven Principles of Xeriscape, which include ways to improve soil, how to water efficiently, and alternatives to turfgrass. With more and more people experiencing extreme heat events and the ongoing scarcity of freshwater in regions of the world, these principles are becoming ever more pertinent.

Choose Heat Tolerant Plants for a Water Efficient Landscape Design

Part of your xeriscaping journey is to include drought tolerant and heat tolerant plants in your landscape. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Purple Coneflower (Zones 3-8)

  • Yucca (Zones 5-10)

  • Shasta Daisy (Zones 5-9)

  • Viburnum (Zones 2-8)

  • Sedum spp. (Zones 6-10)

So get your hands down in that soil and check in on your plants! Chances are they may be feeling the effects of this heat as much as you are. Remember to keep yourself cool and check out Tilly's ways to find shade this summer!

Read more about: Gardening Tips