Isn’t it frustrating to carefully tend your garden, only to see it suffer, shrivel and droop in a drought? Don’t despair! Here are the top four gardening tips to beat the heat.
1. Amend the Soil
Amending the soil helps it to be drought-tolerant. Several organic materials qualify: compost, fall leaves, lawn clippings, wood chips, bark chips, peat and livestock manure.
Whether your soil is coarsely textured or finely textured, amending the soil will help it to retain water. Adding an amendment to coarsely textured, sandy soil essentially helps to fluff it up and hold water that would otherwise drain away.
Finely textured soil has higher clay content. Over time, the amendment helps the tiny bits of clay bind together, which creates large pore space that retains water more effectively. Plus, it improves air filtration – important to plant growth – and allows for roots to grow deeper, so the plant can access a larger supply of water and nutrients.
2. Add Mulch
In dry weather, mulch is a garden’s best friend. Why? Because it retains moisture and cools the soil. Add a thick layer of mulch around your plants and on bare soil.
Numerous materials make good mulch. Organic forms include leaves, pine needles, wood chips, coir, hay, straw or tree bark. The bark of cypress trees has a sponge-like quality that makes it especially effective mulch.
If you need to retain water on a sloping area, try this: apply a mesh net of jute rope. Apply a thick layer of cypress tree mulch, and secure with another mesh net of jute rope atop it. The mulch will absorb and retain water while the mesh net will keep it in place.
Non-organic mulches are composed primarily of shredded rubber. These are much more long-lasting than the organic varieties. In addition, they can be infused with a long lasting but harmless dye, which retains its color for many years, giving your garden a neat, well-tended appearance.
3. Use a Rain Barrel
Harvesting rainwater makes sense and can be done with almost any vessel. But collecting rainwater is easier than ever with the array of rain barrels now available.
These above ground containers have grown much more sophisticated and attractive than the typical ugly, massive metal bins once available. Forms now range from typical barrels that appear to be made of wood, to rectangular boxes that fit tightly against a wall, finished in what looks like louvers. Another popular design is in the shape of an antique amphora urn in a clay-like orange shade, with a space in the opening for a plant.
Linking kits maximize storage capacity. All feature lids to minimize evaporation and bar access for mosquito breeding.
4. Select Water-Wise Plants
Of course the types of plants you choose have a great influence on the amount of water your garden will require. Research drought-tolerant plants that are best suited to your region. Succulents and grasses are especially good choices. The agricultural extension division of your state’s university system can be an excellent resource.
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