Top tips for gardening in hot weather

Gardeners working in the Walled Garden at Gibside, Tyne & Wear

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

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

'For pots, 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.

Even the youngest gardeners enjoy watering
A young boy with a small watering can
Even the youngest gardeners enjoy watering

Add organic matter into the soil

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

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.

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 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.

It's hard to beat the sight and scent of lavender in flower
Lavender growing near the pond
It's hard to beat the sight and scent of lavender in flower

Train your plants

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.

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.

It's all about the roots

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.