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Summer heat can have a terrible impact on your garden, Neville Passmore shares a secret on how you can help you garden survive the heat.
When your lawn is in trouble during a heat wave it has a way of communicating the problems it's experiencing, it wilts. Until it was pointed out to me I didn't see it, now I can quickly recognise the symptoms. These show up as patches of grey blue grass, which contrasts with the rest of the brighter green lawn. Usually the grass curls over slightly as well. While these effects may be less obvious close up, as soon as you move away a bit and take a longer perspective the changes are more obvious.
Garden shrubs can also show signs of wilting but because they can draw moisture from a relatively wide root zone these tend to be less susceptible than grass.
Potted plants however, are usually the first plants to wilt when temperatures are elevated and the volume of soil in the pot limits moisture reserves. Wilted plants lose moisture and their leaves literally droop. The vegetable garden can also show early wilting signs because most vegetables are shallow rooted plants and are rather soft stemmed by nature.
It's most likely that these problems will surface in the middle of a 40 degree day so it's not appropriate to turn sprinklers on because of our nominated watering days. I suggest using a garden hose to apply a spray of water to the affected lawn or plants. Apply sufficient water to make sure it gets down to the roots.
Severe wilting actually closes down growth in a plant, sometimes for days, for fast growing varieties. If not fixed the next phase is tissue death, which in lawns can present as dead patches. So syringing is not a long-term fix but it is a successful short-term way of preventing further damage.
Some gardeners are against spraying foliage with water on a hot day as they have heard that the water droplets act as a magnifying glass and can lead to foliage burn. I am sorry but this is an old husbands tale and completely lacks credibility.
It is also worth applying a quality wetting agent before the heat sets in - Baileys Grosorb is made for WA conditions and can be found at Bunnings and other leading garden centres.