Summer is definitely here and I am sure we are all looking forward to spend some time in our lovely South African sun. So with that in mind we have compiled this guide on looking after your garden in the summer to ensure that you don’t spend all your time working in the garden, after all summer is about enjoying the sun. Following these tips will not only save you time and money, it will make your garden the envy of the neighbourhood.
One of the areas that will require attention is our garden beds. Remember to add some fresh compost to your beds which will act as a mulch keeping the moisture in the soil and also helps to suppress weeds. Feed your beds with a organic fertilizer such as Bounce Back which being a slow release fertilizer will give you more sustained growth throughout summer. Feeding is very important as it replenishes the nutrients that have been used by your plants to aid them in growing and flowering. If the hail hasn’t done the pruning for you, now is the time to do it. Prune back any flowering plants that have finished flowering by a third to prevent them from becoming leggy and to encourage more blooms. Next up is watering which is surely the most important part of looking after your garden in the summer heat. When watering it is best to water less often but with more water at a time instead of a little bit every day. Watering in this way will ensure that the water penetrates deep down to the roots instead of just wetting the surface. Another trick that will help you with watering is to mound the soil around your plants forming a small basin which prevents the water running off and ensures that it soaks through to the roots.
Allow your lawn to grow slightly taller by adjusting the mower height upwards. This will encourage the roots to grow deeper making it more proficient at absorbing water. When watering the lawn also try and water less often but with more water at a time as this will also encourage the roots to grow deeper. Feed your lawn with an organic fertilizer such as Blade Runner which being slow release, means you won’t be mowing your lawn every second day. Time to take care of those pesky weeds trying to spoil our lush green lawns. The trick in controlling weeds in your lawn is to kill the weeds before they can set seed, trying to break the cycle of seed, germination and weeds. Spray with a selective herbicide such as Lawntyl which will kill the weeds and help in preventing the seed from germinating. Spray any new weeds that have germinated as quickly as possible to prevent them from setting seed.
Whilst busy in the garden try to keep an eye out for Lily borers and Christmas beetles which can cause quite a bit of harm if left unchecked. Lilly borer – also known as Amaryllis borer – are striped black and white/yellow caterpillars that mainly attack bulbous plants such as Clivias, Amaryllis and even Agapanthus. It all starts with the adult moth laying its eggs on the host plant where they hatch and start eating into the leaves where the damage they cause looks like little tunnels eaten through the leaves. If left undisturbed they find their way into the bulb and can kill off the whole plant. Best way to control them is to spray all bulbous plants preventatively with Margaret Roberts Caterpillar Insecticide which is a biological control for all caterpillars. The advantage of using the Margaret Roberts Caterpillar Insecticide is that it is completely harmless to anything except caterpillars. It is more effective when used on young caterpillars, if the caterpillars are big already, it is best to use Garden Ripcord which will kill off the adults. Christmas beetles – also known as Chafer beetles – are small (2-3cm) brown beetles that are active at night and hide in the soil around their favourite snack plants during the day. They especially love roses and can cause extensive damage if left unchecked. A telltale sign of Christmas beetle damage on roses is a lace like effect on the leaves with only the veins left and all the leaf in between eaten up. It is best to spray preventatively with Karbaspray and if there is any of the mixture left after spraying, drench the soil around the affected plants to catch the beetles hiding in the soil.
Remember to feed your plants in pots and containers and giving them a haircut if necessary. If you find that the soil is drying out faster than you can water your plants, the solution is mulching. Mulch has numerous benefits the least of which is decreasing watering by up to 70%. Not sure how mulching works? Read our article on the benefits of mulching. Now that you have your garden ready for summer it is time to enjoy the sun, don’t forget the sun screen.