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Hot dry weather

These are challenging times for us. I do hope that the following tips will be of help to you as we overcome these trying times of drought and hot weather. Mulch. Firstly, emulate nature by leaving all the leaves and branches that fall from your trees and shrubs exactly where they land in your garden beds. This will probably start a war with your gardener as they love to rake everything up and remove it. This mulch is free and it serves many valuable benefits. It keeps the soil and the roots cool, it prevents evaporation as it retains the moisture in the soil, prevents erosion, suppresses weed growth and builds a healthy soil which is rich in compost, earthworms and micro nutrients. It also encourages wildlife like geckos, lizards and birds into the garden. One can buy mulch in the form of bark chips or gravel. Mulch will save your plants during this drought and excessive temperatures. Indigenous succulents. Choose these for your garden as they store moisture in their fleshy roots and leaves and are drought hardy. There are many to choose from and there are a large variety of leaf shapes and colours and their flowers are varied and interesting, think of the vivid colours of the vygies. Mulch around them with local stone gravel. Watering considerations. In this heat, it’s best to water in the late afternoon or evenings. Drip irrigation is always the best and is water wise. Our gardeners like to give a superficial watering daily, but the plants need water below their roots. This is especially important for trees as we need to encourage their roots to go deep down. Deep roots make a strong tree. Encourage your gardener to leave the hose dripping for an hour once a week, in preference to a daily 2 cm coverage which will evaporate in an hour. I’ve reached the age where my memory/’forgetery’ needs help, so I set the timer on my phone! Grey water from baths and showers could be used in the garden but I wouldn’t use the washing machine water as there will be too many phosphates from the washing powder. Wind and Fire Break Hedges/ Screens. Wind dries out the garden very rapidly so choose plants like the Krantz Aloe, Aloe arborescens and Spekboom, Portulacarya afra as they are water wise themselves and will act as a good wind/fire break. Lawns are a green desert that guzzle water and fertilizer. Consider reducing the size of your lawn and replacing it with an indigenous meadow of wild grasses and bulbs. The birds and butterflies will be thrilled! In areas where your lawn is struggling in the shade of trees, dig it out and replace with a garden bed of water wise plants like Crassulas, Plectranthus, Asparagus and Agapanthus.
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