Skip to content

Expert tips for gardening in hot weather

Gardener wearing a hat and sunglasses using a hose to water the flowerbeds at Tintinhull Garden, Somerset
Gardener watering the flowerbeds at Tintinhull Garden, Somerset | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

The experienced gardeners who keep our gardens looking great all year round share some simple tips for looking after your garden and lawn in the heat of summer. 

Get to know your garden

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 are good for plants such as primulas, whereas succulents and silver-leafed plants such as lavender will thrive in west-facing gardens or any hot, arid border.

Water wisely

Don’t worry about watering grass

Hamish Bett 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

‘For pots, it’s best to water first thing in the morning or last thing at night to avoid damaging plants,’ says Hamish from Scotney. ‘When the sun shines on water it can act like a magnifying glass, burning the leaves below.’

A volunteer wearing a Panama hat working on a massive lavender bed at Polesden Lacey, Surrey
Looking after the lavender at Polesden Lacey, Surrey | © National Trust Images/Mark Wigmore

Water what needs it

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.

Train your plants’ roots

Regular shallow watering encourages plant roots to stay at the surface. More infrequent but thorough watering teaches them to go deeper and become far more resilient to drought. When plants are young they’ll adapt more readily to the amount of water they receive, and get used to irregular watering.

Add organic matter to the soil

This helps the moisture-holding capacity of the soil. ‘An organic mulch to a depth of 5cm on the surface of the soil when soil is moist in spring will help conserve water in summer,’ says Rebecca Bevan, garden researcher.

A volunteer wearing sunglasses stands on a path in the Walled Garden at Ham House and Garden, London, holding freshly picked vegetables and looking at the vegetable beds picking vegetables
Volunteer picking vegetables in the Walled Garden at Ham House and Garden, London | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Don’t go digging

Avoid digging in hot, dry weather as it can destroy the structure of the soil, increase moisture loss and disturb plant roots.

Protect your vegetables

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.

Gardener working in the walled garden at Mottisfont, Hampshire

Get gardening

Our gardeners are on hand with ideas for your garden, plot or window box. From planting veg to tackling weeds, they’ve got all the important topics covered.

You might also be interested in

Gardener working in the upper garden at Quarry Bank, Cheshire

Gardening tips for summer 

Find out how to get more out of your blooms this summer as our gardeners share their tips on how to garden during the warmest season.

Two blue tits perched on a green bird feeder with brick wall in the background

How to build a wildlife-friendly garden 

Looking for new ways to help your local wildlife? Here are some of our top tips on how to make your garden a haven for animals, birds and insects.

A selection of vintage design seed packets for sunflowers, cornflowers, poppies and sweet peas

Shop the National Trust seed collection 

Grow a piece of history with the National Trust 2023 seed collection, created in collaboration with Blue Diamond garden centres. At least 10% of all sales will support conservation work at the places in our care.