There’s always something to be doing in the garden, whether it’s a spot of pruning or dead-heading, cutting the lawn or just generally tidying things up, the list goes on. So here at Lazy Susan, the team and I have pulled together some of our top gardening tips for July, August and September. It’s that time of year where we want to use the garden for a little well earned R’n’R, maybe fire up the BBQ on an a nice sunny day, and get the family gathered around your Lazy Susan garden table. However, to keep things looking nice, we need to spend a little time giving our gardens some much needed TLC. It’ll make things easier in the long-run and help spread the pre Autumn/Winter workload.
The big shame about summer 2016 so far is that the UK has been a bit of a wash out. Yes we’ve seen the sunshine, but we’ve also had plenty of heavy downpours. This month alone has seen a mini heatwave, but this week heavy rain and thunderstorms, and I don’t think the MET office know what front we’ll see next. The positive of that is our gardens are blooming, and we aren’t having to get the hose out as much as summers past. And whilst rain brings us that all important moisture that our lawns, borders and containers etc need, it can also cause a few problems in our gardens too. It can damage young plants, wash away feed and compost, and even wash away the soil from around the roots of our plants.
Add into the mix the warm temperatures to all this rain we’ve had, and you’ve got the perfect environment for diseases to take hold. We can’t control (or predict for that matter) what the weather will do from one day to the next at the moment. One day we’re basking in the sunshine, the next we’re running for cover from a sudden downpour. So when it comes to our gardens, the best way we can help them thrive, is by being proactive, and tackling any potential problems early doors. Plus if the rain free days are few and far between, then we need to make sure the garden is ready to use on those rare occasions the sun gets out!
Lazy Susan’s summer gardening tips
So in this post we’ve pulled together a few of the Lazy Susan team’s top gardening tips. Things that will help you stay one step ahead of the erratic Great British summer. Be it a warm dry spell or heavy rain, hopefully we’ve got all that mother nature can throw at us over the next couple of months covered in this post. If not, and there’s anything you’d like to add or that you disagree with, then please feel free to drop it in the comments box below. We’re not professional gardeners, this post is just the way we like to do things, tips we’ve picked up along the way etc, so we’d love to hear from you as well!
A good starting point is to get all those faded perennials cut back and give your borders and containers a good tidy up. Keep on top of the specific maintenance needed for each different type of plant, as they’ll always flourish when correctly maintained. Know the individual needs of each plant, and spend some time identifying the specific needs of all your containers, beds and borders etc. Are they shaded or in direct sunlight for most of the day? Is the soil wet or mostly dry? Is it sheltered from the wind or exposed? I guarantee you’ll find different growing conditions from one part of your garden to another. A good understanding of this will help you plant accordingly and manage that maintenance more efficiently.
If the rain has been persistent like we’ve seen over the last few months, the big issue you must look out for is disease and pests. They can take hold so quickly, so you need to be so on the look out for the tell tale signs when the weather is like this. The combination of warm temperatures we’ve seen recently and the sudden heavy downpours is the perfect storm (parden the pun) for fungal or bacterial diseases to take hold. You must treat them as soon as you find them. Keep an eye on all your plants for any signs of disease such as dark spots or other irregular discolouration on your plants. If in doubt about what to do for the best when you do see an issue, take a photo, and post it to a garden forum such as gardenersworld.com. You’ll get all the help and advice you need from their community of willing posters in no time!
Also pay close attention to the stems when checking for disease. You could start to see signs of wilting or rot, especially if the soil gets too wet. This is an all to common problem with the some of the sudden heavy rain we’ve been getting. If your soil stays saturated for a few days after a downpour, and you’re worried about the roots rotting, then you might need to help speed up the drainage by removing any compost etc from around your plants. Also avoid walking on the wet soil near your plants as this will further compact the earth, damaging roots, and also preventing quick drainage.
Have a good look at your garden after a heavy downpour. Look for any areas where puddles are forming, and where it’s taking a day or two for the water to disappear without the help of the sun. Many plants just can’t sit in water for too long, and it can result in rot. Waterlogging is also a big problem on lawns too. If you allow pools of water to sit on the surface and drain slowly, or even fail to drain at all, then the roots of your lawn will simply drown. You’re not getting enough air into the soil. If you do find parts of your garden that are prone to flooding, then look for a solution to help that water drain quicker.
Sometimes soil can become to compacted, same with the lawn. Pricking or slitting the surface will often help to significantly improve drainage. You can also improve drainage to borders etc by using rock beds or even using plastic water drains. Soils that are rich in clay can be particularly troublesome when it comes to drainage, so you need to look at alternative ways to get rid of excess water such as a plastic drain or ‘soak-away’. Draining excess water can be a tricky task, not to mention costly. If you have a real problem with this then it might be a case of looking for specific types of plants that can thrive in these conditions. Alternatively, things such as raised borders or installing piped drainage will help to dramatically improve your gardens growing conditions. Installing drainage is a big project, but if your soil is just too wet, it could be the best (all be it costly) solution.
A heavy downpour can also take away those all important nutrients in the soil away from your plants, so its always a good idea to replace them with a little compost or fertiliser when the rain passes. As we said above, try to avoid walking on any waterlogged soil or lawns as you can further compact the earth, damage plant roots, and basically create problems that were’t there. Give it time to drain before tackling any jobs. Containers and hanging baskets are usually OK with a heavy downpour, they drain pretty quick if you’ve allowed for good drainage. They usually suffer more when we get prolonged dry spells. However, it still pays to keep an eye on them. Heavy rain can still cause pots etc to become waterlogged, so make sure that too much water doesn’t sit and become stagnant, empty drainage bases regularly etc. Even give containers a helping hand to drain if needed by syphoning away any pools of water.
And finally, take advantage of the positives and make the most of it. After all, what other choice do we have? The British weather has always been unpredictable. The rain has its benefits. In my own garden, the hanging baskets are blooming, my lawn has never looked so green at this time of year before, and while I’ve had a bit of weed outbreak between the stones of my patio and pathways, the soft soil means they’re much easier to yank up!