Summer is the season of alfresco living, so you’ll want your garden in its best shape for the rest of those balmy evenings ahead. It’s possible to do it in an eco-friendly manner, says Melbourne landscape designer Ross Uebergang.
Not sure where to start? “Mulching is probably the number one thing you can do for garden beds,” he says.
A layer of mulch limits moisture loss from the soil and saves you the job of weeding. The trick is getting the depth right. "Generally, you need a 50-75 mm layer," Uebergang says. "But only mulch to about 50 mm in native gardens or gardens that aren’t irrigated. If the mulch is too thick, rain won’t always make it down to the soil."
Organic mulch just keeps on giving, says Nick Mayo, sustainability advisor and owner of Canberra’s Sustainable House. "Once it has broken right down into humus, it will release nutrients and stable carbon particles into the soil, helping to boost moisture," he says.
Before the worst heat of the summer, give your plants an occasional deep watering, advises Uebergang. "You want to 'train' root systems to search a little deeper, so they can find water when conditions get tougher," he says. "Once summer is in full swing, you may have to water a little more frequently. The best time to do this is early morning, to limit evaporation."
It helps to view a garden as a complete ecosystem, suggests Mayo. "Think about the shade you have, any bodies of water, and the combination of plants. Encourage wildlife. Native frogs are particularly useful; they will help keep mosquitoes and other insects under control."
Minimize your use of herbicides by opting for steam power, he says. “High-pressure steam cleaners do a fantastic job of tidying up pavers and hardscaping.”
Once your garden is neat and healthy, observe how it reacts in extreme temperatures. "Some plants will be hardier than others, some areas might benefit from the addition of shade trees," says Mayo.
New plantings and other projects are best tackled in autumn, so that gives you plenty of time to sit back, relax, and enjoy summer outdoors.
This story was originally written by Homes to Love editors. For more, check out our sister site, Homes to Love.