Our top tips for gardening in hot weather

When it’s hot outside, the experienced gardeners that keep our gardens looking great all year round urge you not to panic.

Here are a few simple tips for looking after your gardens and lawns in the warm weather:

    Don't panic into watering grass

    Wooden bench under bushes at Tintinhulls Gardens Cedar Lawn

    Paul Micklewright from Scotney Castle in Kent, says:
    'Grass is very good at dealing with a lack of water, even if it turns brown it will be able to bounce back when the rains return later in the year. At Scotney we never water grass, even in a heatwave.'

    Water plants in the morning and evening only

    Potted geraniums and a watering can in the Auricula Theatre at Calke Abbey.

    'For pots and herbaceous beds, it’s best to water first thing in the morning or last thing at night to avoid damaging plants,' says Paul from Scotney.

    When the sun shines on water it can act like a magnifying glass, burning the leaves below.

    Add organic matter into the soil

    A bag of National Trust peat free compost on sale at Mount Stewart

    This helps the moisture-holding capacity of the soil.

    'An organic mulch to a depth of 25mm into the surface of the soil regularly will help conserve water. Keep this quite bulky so it will retain any moisture,' says Ed Ikin at Morden Hall Park in London.

    Don't go digging

    Spades at the Wardens Office

    Be careful not to over-dig in hot weather when plants are struggling to get enough water.

    Experienced gardener Ed says: ‘Practice a no-dig or limited-dig policy to minimise the loss of moisture from the surface of the soil.’

    Get to know your garden

    Family looking at the double lavender borders in the garden at Avebury Manor

    What’s your soil like? Which way do your flower beds and vegetable patch face? Plant according to your findings.

    For instance, east facing gardens tend to retain more moisture and good for plants such as primulas, whereas succulents and silver foliage plants such as lavender will thrive in west facing gardens or any hot, arid border.

    Train your plants

    Seedlings in the nursery at Nymans

    When plants are young they’ll adapt more readily to the amount of water they receive, and get used to irregular watering.

    If you know it’s going to be a hot summer, it’s worth bearing this in mind with your younger plants.

    Protect your vegetables

    The allotments in the Walled Garden at Gibside

    Looking after your vegetable plot is important in hot weather too, especially if you’re hoping for delicious food to go in summer salads. Don’t leave large areas of your vegetable patch bare, but plant with green manures and companion plants.

    It's all about the roots

    Tomatoes on the vine at Trengwainton Garden, Cornwall

    Surface rooting plants such as lettuce and tomatoes will wilt quickly and require more watering, whereas deeper rooting vegetables such as carrots, parsnips and potatoes may be more resilient.