It’s rainy season here at ADL Towers with our much desired spring repeatedly postponed by cold snaps that have followed us almost into April. Still, things are improving and getting warmer and we even saw the sun for five minutes the other day. Most of all though we remember what summer was like last year when here in the UK we experienced our hottest ever day on record. With the previous record coming only three years previously in 2019 prudent gardeners are already taking steps to prepare their gardens for a potential repeat.
The most obvious first step of course is to collect and store water. With so much of it freely falling from the sky now is the time to refill empty water butts or install some if you have yet to do so. Hosepipe bans are a frequent fixture of high summer nowadays and should further water restrictions come in force having a private reserve will be essential in keeping your plants from getting thirsty.
Growing the Right Plants for Drought.
With growing seasons now underway it’s important to pick the right plants for drought proof gardens. Choosing varieties that are more resistant to drought and can cope in higher heat is an essential part of this. The other important factor is to choose plants that will grow well in the kind of soil you have available within your garden.
Looking after the soil in particular and making preparation is key. Plants use less water when their other nutritional needs are met. Cultivating your soil by tilling it with mulch and other organic material will help to ensure that there is plenty for your plants to absorb as they grow into their new home.
This is also the reason why if you are looking to add larger plants to your garden it is important to do so earlier before summer arrives. Plants need time to establish strong root growth. For plants from warmer climates like the Mediterranean spring is the best time for this. Attempting to plant them in autumn will put them at risk of problems like root rot in northern climes.
Embracing a Better Mindset
As gardeners we may very well liken ourselves to artists and sculptors but unlike such artisans we must always be conscious of the fact that our medium is alive. This means we must learn to work with it rather than try to force the plants in our care into being what we wish them to be.
First amongst this mindset for example is how we think of lawns. The typical urban ideal of freshly cut green shoots is an expensive and wasteful indulgence. On hot days, most of the water we might try to give the lawn will be wasted and evaporated. So long as an appropriate seed mix of grass is use, lawns cab be surprisingly resistant to heat.
The trick again is to go against the tidy instincts taught to us by decades of idyllic suburban lawn guides and resisting the urge to mow so frequently. Taller grass means longer roots which helps to both keep the soil together and the grass blades to recover when water is available. A brown lawn does not mean a dead lawn and in most cases, so long as the lawn has been allowed to establish itself it will recover quickly when rain returns.
There’s a lot more to be done and thought about when it comes to drought proof gardens in an era of warm uncertainty. Why not consider a course in permaculture to build a sustainable garden in tune with nature or perhaps an RHS course? Knowing what to do for your garden is the first step to ensuring it can face whatever summer might bring.