You know how hot Southern landscapes get in the summer months. With abundant sunshine, high humidity and soaring temperatures, even the toughest plants droop with exhaustion. Protecting the soil is key to plant survival during periods of extreme heat.
With a few garden tricks, you can create a shady, cool haven anywhere. Adding cover to your outdoor living space and protection for your plants will create a beautiful, refreshingly cool hangout this summer.
Create a Shady Haven:
- Install arbors and trellises to help shield plants and patios from the sun. Plant heat-tolerant native vines like American wisteria and crossvine under arbors and trellises. Fully grown in a couple of seasons, hardy vines will act as both windbreaks and sun block.
- Increase shade. Use umbrellas, shade sails or take advantage of any natural opportunities in your yard for shade. Plant native trees for a long-term solution.
- Grow taller plants to shade shorter ones. A classic example is vining clematis with roses. Clematis have shallow roots that need shade. Plant clematis at the base of roses and then mulch. The vines will clamber through rose canes while their roots stay cool.
- Plant sunflowers on the west side of a vegetable garden to partially shade plants from the hot afternoon sun.
- The southwest corner of your house is the hottest place in your landscape. Plants on raised decks and patios are also more susceptible to heat. Only grow plants in these areas that can handle extreme temperatures.
- Install shade cloth. Even sun-loving plants like a little shade during the hottest months and a shade cloth can offer that protection. Tomatoes, for example, can get sun scald from the sun’s heat.
- Don’t heavily prune vegetables. Keep plants a bit leafier for extra shade protection in hot climates.
- Add a layer of mulch. Mulch helps keep weeds down, but more importantly, keeps soil cool and slows the loss of moisture due to evaporation. Be careful to keep mulch away from the base of plants and trunks of trees and shrubs. Do not mound mulch like a volcano.