How to keep your garden green during summer

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While summer is an exciting time for pool parties and backyard BBQs it can be a challenging season for your garden. Along with water and soil management, choosing the right plants can make enjoying your garden during summer much easier.

A carefully maintained lawn and garden can mean the difference between your plants barely surivivng or beautifully thriving in the summer heat.

Proper water and soil management during the summer months means you can spend less time watering and more time enjoying your garden.

Water and soil management

Whether you live in steamy tropical areas that receive heavy summer rains or cooler, more temperate areas, water management should be a priorityii. Adding a wetting agent and organic mulch to the soil can help protect your plants from drying out and can improve the overall appearance of your garden bedsii.

Wetting agents help the soil to absorb and disperse any water that falls on it more evenly and effectivelyi. Even if your garden receives large amounts of rainfall during summer, the addition of a wetting agent can help to ensure that the soil is able to absorb all of the water that falls instead of remaining on the surfacei. Soils with wetting agents are able to hold on to moisture for longer, which may mean watering less if you live in a drier climate while still being able to enjoy a vibrant gardenii.

Organic mulches and fertilisers can also provide essential nutrients and help to keep your plants from drying outiii. Mulching reduces the amount of watering you need to do by up to 60 per centiii, inhibits the growth of weeds and improves overall plant and soil healthiv. The type of mulch you use, such as compost, old woodchips, hay or old lawn clippingsiv, can provide different textures and colours to help liven up your garden.

Different varieties of organic mulch can help to create beautiful garden beds, while protecting your plants from drying out.

The right types of plants

As with water management, where you live will play a deciding role in what types of plants you should consider including in your lawn and garden. Durable grasses, certain vegetables and robust flowers that can withstand a range of weather and soil conditions are good options to consider when planning your summer garden.

Zoysia grass, Queensland Blue Couch and Buffalo grass are three popular types of turf that grow well in Australia and are fairly easy to maintain. Buffalo grass usually requires periodic de-thatching (removing a layer of clippings, roots and stems that form between the base of the grass and the soili) and a bit more shade than the other two varietiesv. The Zoysia and Queensland Blue Couch require minimal mowing, watering and fertilisingv.

Vegetables are superb options for a summer garden. Sweet potatoes, corn and snake beans flourish in hotter temperatures while cabbage and broccoli will do well with some shadevi. For a bit of colour, pink Dwarf Oleanders, pale blue Plumbagos and yellow Cliviasvii, Marigolds and Snapdragonsviii are excellent additions to almost any garden. Your local plant nursery will be able to advise you about the plants that will grow well in your areaix.

Summer garden checklist

Even if you have chosen low maintenance plants and turf it is a good idea to tend to them on a regular basis to check for problems such as dry spots or insect infestations. Keep the following points in mind during the summer months can help to give your garden the best chance of staying picture perfect through to autumn:

  1. Mow the lawn regularly to help reduce weeds and prevent the grass from creeping into plant bedsi;
  2. Aerate your lawn to help circulate water and air throughout the soilx;
  3. Keep your lawn and garden beds free of weeds and pests that can zap nutrients and cause diseasexi,xii;
  4. Cover more delicate plants with a portable sun umbrella or shade canopy to protect them from the strong afternoon sunviii;
  5. Check on any water restrictions in your area that prevent watering during certain times of day and only water when your garden is looking like it needs a drink.

Having a lush, colourful garden during the harsh Australian summer doesn't have to be difficult. With proper planning and lots of TLC, your summer garden can be the envy of the neighbourhood.

iThe Lawn Guide, Lawn care for summer, viewed on 30 September 2014,

iiMiddleton, J 2014, "Monthly Gardening Tips - November", Aussie Green Thumb, viewed 9 September 2014,

iiiThe ABC 2014, Fact sheet: how to mulch, viewed 30 September 2014,

ivNSW Government Environment & Heritage 2014, Mulching, viewed 30 September 2014,

vThe Lawn Guide, Lawn types in Australia, viewed 30 September 2014,

viOrganic Gardner 2013, Planting guides, viewed on 30 September 2014,

viiAustralian Handyman 2011, Hardy plants for an indestructible garden, viewed on 30 September 2014,

viiiBetter Homes and Gardens 2013, December in the Garden, viewed 30 September 2014,

ixAustralian Handyman 2011, Hardy plants for an indestructible garden, viewed on 30 September 2014,

xBetter Homes and Gardens 2013, How to maintain the best lawn on your street, viewed on 30 September 2014,

xiBetter Homes and Gardens 2013, How to maintain the best lawn on your street, viewed on 30 September 2014,"

xiiBetter Homes and Gardens 2013, How to maintain the best lawn on your street, viewed on 30 September 2014,