Relaxing holidays away from home are good for us, but not for the garden, as most of us find out on our return.
With punishing heat, little rain and no maintenance, the picture is usually one of overgrown lawns, wilting or dead plants and frazzled vegetables. But all is not lost.
Here’s how to get the garden back in shape.
Lawn – Don’t be hasty
Gradually reduce the height of the lawn. Cutting too low immediately results in that “white” look which occurs when the grass blades are cut too short and burn in the sun. This also stresses the roots and takes longer for the lawn to recover.
For the first cut, set the lawnmower on the highest possible setting. The lawn will still be long but will look neater and the roots will be shaded. Four to five days later, cut it a bit lower and the following week, lower the setting again, if necessary.
Bear in mind that in very hot, dry weather, lawns should be left longer. This allows them to establish deeper roots making the lawn more drought tolerant, and the longer blades shade the roots too.
Tidy overgrown beds
It is amazing how quickly beds get overgrown, and a break away from the garden helps us to see it with new eyes.
Dead-heading, trimming, cutting back, thinning out, and removing those that are past their best, creates space for plants to grow better, for air to circulate and for watering to be more effective. After the clean-up, lightly fertilise, water well afterwards, and mulch. The garden will then be set up for the rest of summer.
Fill the gaps
If there have been some casualties, fill the gaps with new annuals or perennials. Most spring annuals will be past their prime and should be pulled out.
Replace them with heat- and drought-tolerant plants that will survive our midsummer heat.
Replace neglected veggies
Pull out veggies that look worse for wear. Although it is too late to grow tomatoes, brinjals and peppers from seed, look out for the large range of Simply Delicious patio veggies that can grow in pots or in the garden. These are established plants, most at fruiting stage and within a month or earlier will be ready for harvesting.
Also in the range are Patio Snacker cucumber, Easy Pick zucchini, Honeynut squash and salad leaf mixes and herbs such as basil. For novelty, there is a pot pepper range of hot and sweet peppers like golden cayenne, jalapeno or sweet snack.