Keith Mundy

As we head into summer, these months are a critical time in our gardens to get them through the hot and drier months.

Summer brings the usual tasks we all associate with it. And although these tasks can seem tiresome, they are most essential in the overall upkeep of our gardens.

As I write this column we have had no worthwhile rain and I fully understand that a lot of us are struggling with the decision to water or not to water. Long lived plants like our shade trees and hedges etc should take priority with watering and if it comes to not watering something, ease off on lawns, annual flowers and perennials that can be cut back and will generally recover. Larger plants could have a water basin constructed around them and then filled with mulch. This is a good way of retaining water without runoff. Any grey water from the house can be directed into these basins.

Garden beds require a good soaking at least every 7-10 days using a sprinkler and not a hand held spray. Watering with a hand held spray is basically just a waste of this valuable resource. Invariably the surface just gets a wetting and water does not reach the feeder roots of the plants thus encouraging a shallow root system. In periods of extreme dry conditions, plants with shallow roots dry out very quickly and places the plant under stress, often leading to death.

If lawns are to be watered, it is best to deep water a couple of times per week to encourage deep rooting of the grass. This again will assist in preventing the grass drying out. Lift the mower up a couple of notches as more leaf will help the plant through hot days.

Another maintenance task in the garden during these warm months is keeping an eye out for aphid infestation on roses and new growth on other plants, as the aphids like the warmer weather and can do some serious damage to plants. Use a complete insecticide and fungicidal spray to control any pest on the roses including black spot and powdery mildew.

Practices like watering roses in the early morning and placing the sprinkler in such a position so overhead watering doesn’t take place will also assist in the prevention of fungal diseases.

Spring flowering perennials can also do with a tidy up during this month removing spent flower heads and any unsightly foliage that might have died. This will encourage another flush of flowers and will carry them through until Autumn.

A repeat planting of summer salad vegetables can take place, ensuring you of a continual supply of delicious food. Remember to water your tomatoes at root level and not overhead. This also will prevent disease activity. Using a fertiliser high in potassium will enhance flowering, therefore creating more fruit.

Finally, remember to mulch, mulch, mulch. This very easy practice will help to save your beautiful garden.