With the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting warmer than average temperatures this summer, Angie Thomas, Horticulture Consultant to Yates has revealed her top tips on how Aussies across the country can protect and preserve their backyards for the all important summer BBQs, backyard cricket and Christmas Day festivities.
Thomas commented: 'Following an unseasonably dry winter and spring in many areas across Australia, warmer weather can create a tough environment for plants and lawns, just when we all want to get out and enjoy our backyards."
What to do if you're going on holiday
If you're travelling to visit family and friends this summer and want to return to a live garden, water your plants thoroughly and deeply before applying a three to five centimetre layer of mulch to the top of pots and garden beds to help reduce moisture loss from the soil.
If a neighbour can water your plants for you, group your potted plants together to make it easier for them (you can put indoor pot plants together in the bath tub). Move tender plants to a shaded spot where they are protected from harsh sun and will benefit from any natural rainfall. Place saucers under vulnerable potted plants, like hydrangeas, to catch excess water for them to drink on hot and dry days.
NSW and VIC - Prepare for dry conditions
With hot, dry conditions expected for parts of NSW and Victoria, spray plants and seedlings with a drought shield to help reduce water loss from leaves and increase your plant's chances of survival.
An application of soil wetter around the root zone in garden beds and potted plants will help get water where it's needed by breaking down the waxy water repellent layer that can develop on soil surfaces.
You can also mix water storage crystals into the soil before planting. For existing plants, spoon a few pre-hydrated crystals into vertical holes poked down into the root area.
Queenslanders - Prepare for a hot and wet summer
Lawn grubs can rapidly destroy an entire lawn - not what you want during the season of backyard cricket! Armyworm caterpillars can also ruin large patches of lawn in late summer by stripping grass foliage.
You can protect the lawn and control curl grubs and armyworm by treating with a lawn insecticide.
Thunderstorms in Queensland are expected to be more frequent this summer. The number of days with severe storms in Brisbane is predicted to be between 24 to 28, compared with a long-term average of 20 days. Towards the end of the wet season, to replace the nutrients in your lawn washed away by heavy rains, apply a lawn fertiliser.
Keeping your vegies alive in the heat
To keep your home grown salad bowl fresh, if potted vegies start to get too hot and wilt, move them into a more shaded spot. Lettuce, rocket, parsley, mint, basil and silverbeet will all tolerate part shade with morning sun and afternoon shade being ideal.
In tropical zones, cherry tomatoes, watermelon, eggplant, lettuce, cucumber, Asian greens like Buk choy are great to sow now.
Make sure you have plenty of fruit for your Christmas Day Pavlova
Delicious and juicy fruit is perfect for a warmer summer so make sure you keep those pesky fruit flies at bay by using a bait. Look for one that is certified for use in organic gardening as it will be derived from naturally occurring soil bacteria. Apply it to the lower trunk, foliage or a piece of plywood. Don't forget to remove any fallen fruit to help deter fruit fly infestations.
To promote sweet and juicy fruit this summer, mulch strawberries and other berries with sugar cane or pea straw to help keep roots cooler and reduce moisture loss from the soil.
Keep the summer bugs away
Garden pests like mites will be more of a common problem this summer thanks to higher temperatures. So too are caterpillars, aphids and whitefly.
Look out for mottled leaves and spidery webs created by mites, leaf holes left by caterpillars and yellowing plants from sap sucking aphids and whitefly. Carefully apply a spray to control the most common pests on roses, flowers, vegetables and citrus. Water plants well beforehand and then apply the spray in the cool of the early evening.
If in doubt, ask
There's no need to be overwhelmed by the thought of trying to protect your garden over summer. At Yates, they can help guide you through the best ways to care for your garden.
Yates are passionate about helping you grow more than a garden - to create spaces and places at home to enjoy with friends and family. That's why Yates has seven horticulturists on-hand to answer any gardening question you might have. The Yates My Garden app includes a range of inspirational ideas and practical advice and by joining the Yates Garden Club, you can receive garden inspiration and information relevant to your local climate.
For more information go to www.yates.com.au