‘Can kill off your lawn’: Common mistakes gardeners make during hot weather – how to avoid

‘Can kill off your lawn’: Common mistakes gardeners make during hot weather – how to avoid


Garden tips: How to maintain your lawn

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When the temperature soars, the plants in backyards can start to droop. Hot weather, blazing sunshine, too little shade and a lack of water can all result in yellowing leaves, dry roots and falling petals that can hijack even the best gardens. Those who want to keep their garden looking lush, the temptation is to rev up the sprinkler, flood the ground, and water. But being too generous with the hose can cause more problems than it solves, warn the pros.

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Anna Hampshire, Head of Marketing from Marshalls said: “People take pride in their gardens and spend a lot of time and money on their maintenance, therefore it is important that we are equipped to take care of them during a heatwave.

“Some forward-planning with your garden design can help you fare better in hot summers.”

Here are several common mistakes gardeners make in a heatwave – and what to do instead to keep your outdoor space looking green and gorgeous in the sunshine.

Mowing the lawn

The question of how often you should mow your lawn is guaranteed to keep gardeners awake at night. 

But there’s a simple answer during a heatwave – don’t do it.

Chris Mcilroy, lawn expert at The Grass People advised: “Remember that a short heatwave is not an issue, so try not to panic.

“A medium term heatwave can kill off your lawn or put it into a high state of stress where the grass turns yellow but will recover over time. 

“But if it becomes straw-like, it’s dead. 

“The advice is no feeding or mowing the lawn during a heatwave.”

Feeding the lawn will mean the grass seeks extra water and resources as it strives to grow, while mowing the lawn will increase the stress even further. 

Flooding the lawn

A lush green lawn is a gardener’s goal, so the thought of yellowing turf, dried out and straw-like in the hot sun, can be heartbreaking.

Knowing when to water grass will keep it in top condition. 

Chris suggested: “It’s a good idea to water grass once a week if it’s not raining, but be careful not to flood the grass. 

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“In extreme summer heat, a good guide is five gallons of water a week for every one square yard of lawn.

“If drought conditions persist, soil can become very dry and hard, which can make it difficult for the water to permeate, so it’s important to know how to aerate a lawn with either a plug aerator or a spike aerator, which create holes in the ground allowing water and oxygen to filter through.”

Keeping containers in full sun

Container plants can be the showpiece of gardens and any outdoor space, but they are vulnerable to hot weather.

Nikki Hollier, RHS Chelsea Flower Show medal winner and founder of Border in a Box warned: “Sunshine can cause damage to leaves and scorch them – it can turn the leaves brown and flowers to drop off.

“If they’re in pots, move them into dappled shade to protect them. 

“If they’re in the ground, you could use an open garden parasol to create some garden shade and protection from the sun.”

Planting new flowers and shrubs

If your garden is looking a little dry and tired, you may be tempted to plug the gaps with some lush new plants – but the pros advise against this.

Anna cautioned: “Digging up soil during intense heat can cause a loss of water and increased temperature for the soil, which can lead to unsuccessful planting.

“Instead, plants should be put in the soil during cooler periods – and if possible, using companion planting to help shade the soil.”

Trimming existing plants is also a no-no during times of extreme heat. 

Pruning plants will signal them to grow, which uses vital energy and water which obviously needs to be preserved in heat, so what until the heatwave has passed to give plants a good trim.

Watering at the wrong time

Water is essential to keep plants lush, hydrated and thriving in the hot weather, but knowing when and when not to is crucial.

Nikki advised: “Water plants in the morning before it gets hot.

“For containers, keep an eye on smaller pots in particular as they can dry out quickly in the heat and may need watered more often – water the soil, not the leaves. 

“If the plants are in the ground, add a mulch to the surface to reduce water expiration. 

“This also reduces weeds, so it’s a double win.”

Not watching for wilt

Plants affected by excessive heat will reveal clues that they are struggling – look for wilting leaves and drooping branches, and dry and yellowed leaves. 

The gardening pro explained: “The parts of the plants furthest from the roots are usually affected first and most severely.

“Newly planted climbers, shrubs and especially trees are at extra risk because their root system takes several years to develop to the point where they are drought-proof.”

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