Defending against the heat: Garden edition


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If you think you’re the only one suffering and dehydrated in this smothering summer heat, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Your garden, plants and lawns need to be cooled off and protected from the sun as well. Here are a few strategies to keep your garden growing during this hot, humid summer.

Cover your plants.
Garden fabric, such as shade netting, will keep your soil and plants from overheating and cut moisture loss, according to Gardeners.com. Germination and the growth of young plants will improve, as well. Shade netting works best when it's supported over plants by hoops or a wooden frame, which helps maintain good air circulation around the plants. It’s particularly important to provide shade between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The best sunlight is morning sun, when it’s less intense.

Lay down mulch.
You get a lot of bang for your buck when you place mulch in your garden. It helps preserve moisture in the soil, reduces weeds, shields soil from direct sunlight and helps cool the soil, according to VeggieGardener.com. If you go the organic route — which includes straw, leaves, compost or grass clippings work — the mulch will also slowly break down to add organic matter to the soil. And feel free to lay it on thick. The more mulch you use — say a 3-in. to 4-in. layer — the better it will protect your plants.

Choose heat-tolerant plants.
There are a number of plants that are heat- and drought-resistant or shade-loving, which means they are naturally better equipped to handle the summer sun. Examples of shade-loving veggies, which need about three to six hours of sun, include leafy greens, broccoli, peas and radishes. Check out HGTV for its list of heat-tolerant plants, and Burpee Seed Co. for some heat-tolerant veggies.

Protect your lawn.
The experts at Denver-based Revive suggest the following tips to keep your lawn healthy during extreme temperatures:
• Avoid watering during the day. By running the sprinkler during the late evening and early morning, you’ll avoid evaporation.
• Check sprinklers for water output and coverage, by placing a shallow container on your lawn to measure water intake. Lawns need about 2 ins. of water per week during the peak summer temperatures.
• Reduce heat stress by wetting (i.e., "syringing") the turf for a few minutes with a hose.
• Make sure your lawnmower is in tip-top shape. Set the mower height level as high as possible, leave lawn clippings and use a mulching mower to recycle moisture and nutrients back into the yard; sharpen your lawnmower blade twice each summer.

Tell us: How do you protect your plants during the summer?