How to look after wildlife and your garden as the heatwave hits

As the very hot weather hits Sussex, advice has been given on how to keep your garden in good condition and how to look after wildlife.

Tuesday, 26th June 2018, 10:22 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th June 2018, 10:24 am

Wyevale Garden Centres, which has outlets across the county says gardens and wildlife are important to Brits: 82 per cent of us want to attract more wildlife into our gardens and 37 per cent think that wildlife is the most appealing garden feature.

The company has produced the following ten top tips for garden and nature-lovers across the UK, which include using seaweed extract to drought-proof plants, how to avoid burning lawns, using mulch as a protective barrier and how to keep birds, insects and amphibians clean and hydrated.

David Mitchell, Buying Manager for Horticulture at Wyevale Garden Centres, says: “Our plants perspire 85% more than we do in hot temperatures, so we need to look after them, just as we do ourselves. Raised temperatures reduce the soil’s ability to absorb fertiliser, so be careful what feed you use as granular products can cause lawns to burn. You can also drought-proof plants with an organic fertiliser that contains seaweed, which will enable plants to cope better with drought stress. Adding lots of mulch, such as bark chips, will also provide a barrier to cool the soil and hold moisture.”

Wyevale Garden Centres has the following six tips to keep gardens healthy this summer:

SUPER SEAWEED: Drought-proof your plants with an organic fertiliser that contains seaweed extracts. Naturally occurring substances in seaweed such as Mannitol and Betaines are known to enable plants to cope better physiologically with drought stress.

CHANGE YOUR DIET: Raised temperatures reduce the soil’s ability to absorb the nutrition in fertilisers. Too much fertiliser can have the opposite effect and burn plants. Seek out liquid fertilisers that have improved absorption in high temperatures.

GET MOWING: Adjust your mower blade to a higher setting to ensure grass stems provide maximum shade to your soil. Resist the urge to rake the lawn for a perfect finish as cuttings can also provide vital shade. And check mover blades to ensure they give a sharp clean cut to the grass.

MORE MULCH: Don’t be shy when it comes to adding extra mulch as it provides a vital barrier to cool the soil and hold moisture. Choose well-composted mulches in hot weather such as bark chips on borders.

WATER WISELY: Even a well-established lawn will require watering during increased temperatures. A simple sprinkler is easy to set up however if you have a large area it is worth investing in a proper irrigation system to ensure equal and efficient distribution of water, ideally with a timer. Timing is important; early morning and late evening are the best times of day to allow water enough time to soak into the soil before the sun’s heat rises and speeds up evaporation and transpiration. Consider an automatic watering system to ensure plants are kept watered while on holiday.

GET YOUR BUTTS OUT: Invest in a water butt – it’s an eco-friendly way to water your garden and you can also draw from it should a water ban come into play.

David Mitchell added: “All wildlife needs water and the best way to ensure your garden stays wild through a hot summer is to provide water for birds, stop plants from going thirsty, and keep ponds topped up with clean water – ideally with harvested rainwater.”

Wyevale Garden Centres has the following four tips on keeping wildlife healthy this summer:

1. BIRD BATHS: Keep bird baths topped up with clean water so birds can drink and keep themselves clean.

2. BEE CREATIVE: Put out shallow dishes of water, filled with pebbles, to provide easy drinking places for thirsty bees, chiefly honey bees.

3. USE IVY: Ivy is often thought of as a menace, but it’s a great provider of food and shelter for bats and birds, and a home for hibernating insects.

4. PERFECT PONDS: Summer is the best time for pond-dipping. You’ll be able to see water beetles, diving beetles, water fleas, dragonfly nymphs, caddisfly larvae and aquatic snails. At home, make sure you keep ponds topped up with clean water so there is enough oxygen available for fish and other wildlife. Ideally use rainwater from a butt. And remove weeds, but leave them on the side overnight, so any creatures stuck in them can return to your pond.