There are few things hotter than a South Alabama summer. Our coastal communities experience some of the highest levels of heat and humidity in the country, creating a scorching season that takes a toll on all living things, including your landscape.
Humans have plenty of ways to beat the heat, but what about protecting your plants? They may live outdoors, but plants can also suffer when the season turns sweltering. Unfortunately, the peak of summer If you want to keep a lush landscape all year long, it’s important to help your plants stay happy and hydrated during periods of extreme heat.
The good news is, it doesn’t take hours of heavy yard work to help your landscape beat the heat. In fact, a few simple steps can make a big difference in helping your lawn and landscape plants thrive in high temperatures.
MOW HIGH IN THE HEAT
When temperatures are high, it can be tempting to give your grass a shorter cut so that you don’t have to mow as often. However, it’s best to leave your lawn a little longer during the summer months. This is because taller blades cast shadows that shield your soil from the sun and help it retain more moisture. To help your lawn handle the heat, aim to keep your grass between three and six inches tall. Leaving the clippings on your lawn can also provide a layer of protective mulch (and save you time in high temperatures).
Like humans, plants need proper hydration to survive the summer heat. Unlike humans, they don’t need it every hour – or even every day. In fact, overwatering can be just as harmful as never watering at all! When it comes to helping your landscape beat the heat, it’s important to water wisely.
First, you want to water your landscape at the right time. When possible, aim to water your landscape in the early morning. This will allow the roots to absorb the most moisture before the highest heat of the day, when most of the water will be lost to wind and evaporation. If you can’t make mornings work, late evening is the next best time – just be sure to give your lawn plenty of time to dry before nightfall to lower the risk of fungal disease.
However, you shouldn’t make plans to water every morning. Giving your plants a small soak every day encourages root systems to stay shallow, where soil temperatures are high and water evaporates quickly. Instead, one of the best ways to help your landscape beat the heat is to water deeply, but infrequently. After giving enough water to soak the entire root zone, you should wait until the top layer of soil is crumbly and dry to water again (typically 2-3 times per week). This will help encourage a healthy root system and reduce the risk of overwatering, which can deprive the soil of oxygen and lead to root or fungal diseases.
Donning a thick, fluffy blanket may cause you to break out in a summer sweat, but it’s perfect for your plants. A layer of mulch actually keeps your plants cool in high temperatures by creating a barrier between the soil and the sun. This protects the delicate root systems from extreme heat, conserves soil moisture, and reduces surface evaporation.
To best protect your plants, apply two to three inches of light-colored mulch around the roots of your flowers and foliage. As a bonus, it prevents pesky weeds from competing with your plants and gives your summer landscape a sophisticated look.
Did you know that plants can get sunburned? Leaf Sunscald typically occurs when transplanted plants have a sudden increase in sunlight, but any prolonged exposure to overhead sun can damage your landscape plants. Erecting a shade can protect your plants from the stress of sun damage and keep their immediate environment a little cooler.
Shading your plants is much simpler than it sounds. You can use anything that provides overhead protection, such as a big beach umbrella or a pair of old bed sheets. If you prefer more polished protection, you can purchase shade cloth from your local home and garden store. This mesh-like material cuts down on sunlight penetration without hindering the natural flow of air and water.
Don’t let summer stop you from having the coolest home on the block! Chad’s Landscape Management offers comprehensive maintenance plans that keep your landscape happy and hydrated all year-long. If you want to enjoy a season free of stressful yard work, contact us today!