Summer is fast approaching, so it’s a good time to think about preparing your backyard for the coming heat. The punishing conditions of summer can be brutal for your trees and plants, but there are some preventative steps you can take now to ease the burden.
Creating a garden from the beginning that is designed to withstand the conditions of every season is always the best place to start. Our harsh South East Queensland climate means choosing species that are resilient to the heat of summer. Native, water-wise plants are generally best suited to our climate as opposed to exotic plant and tree species.
Plant trees and shrubs in autumn to early winter to allow them time to establish themselves for summer. Once established, native trees will provide shade, potentially lowering the temperature inside your home depending on their position, they’ll also attract local birds, bees and wildlife and should require minimal care once established.
Before the heat of summer is upon us, and certainly throughout the season, it’s highly recommended that you thoroughly water your garden. Deep watering encourages the roots of plants to grow deeper, making the plant hardy and resilient to heat, and much more likely to survive the season.
In hot weather, it’s generally best to water your garden regularly – either very early in the morning or in the early evening depending on what suits your timetable, so that any excess moisture has a chance to evaporate. Don’t water plants in full sun as most of the water will evaporate before it can be soaked up by the plant.
You may want to consider using an organic fertiliser such as Seasol for an extra boost, however, be mindful of not overdoing it as this can make plants more vulnerable to disease and pests. Many Australian native trees do not respond well to fertilisers that contain phosphates.
A great way to reduce evaporation is to add a layer of course, aged mulch, approximately 5– 8 cm around your trees and plants. This will reduce the temperature of the soil, provide nutrients and allow trees and plants to thrive when there is little moisture available to them.
Depending on the condition of your soil, you may want to use a ‘wetting agent’ which will help water to penetrate the soil by breaking down the waxy coating that can often develop on the soil surface and prevent water reaching plant roots.
Check your trees for any signs of stress. Signs of a sick tree can include changes to the tree bark, cracks in the trunk, reduction in foliage, discoloured leaves, evidence of pests, deadwood and changes to the soil surrounding the tree. If you have noticed any of these signs, it’s best to have a professional Arborist inspect your tree to ensure it’s not sick or weak, as you don’t want to go through the summer storm season with a tree that could be susceptible to falling over or having large limbs come down.
The stress of high temperatures and low moisture levels can make trees and plants more susceptible to the threat of diseases and pests. Watering and conditioning soil will give your garden a better chance of survival, so your attention is vital in preventing infestation and sickness.
So, get ready for summer, and you’ll enjoy a beautiful, thriving garden for the season ahead.