With the garden increasingly an extension of the inside of the home, we thought it was time to gather some expert tips and tricks for the outdoors as the summer holidays kick off. “Numerous plants burst into bloom or bear fruit at this time of year, but the hotter weather can also be tough on our plants,” says Tristan Eastaugh, product manager at garden tool company Cyclone.
“It’s important to take care of your garden in the summer months, and with some careful planning and the right tools, you can also promote healthy growth throughout the season,” says Tristan who shares his top five summer gardening tips with us.
Mulch, mulch, mulch!
“A fresh layer of mulch helps to conserve moisture and suppress weeds. In fact, mulch can reduce evaporation from the soil surface by as much as 70 per cent when applied correctly, so it’s a vital ingredient in obtaining a water-wise garden. It can also help to prevent soil erosion and even-out temperature variations,” says Tristan.
First up, it’s important to give the area a good weed and soak, then spread a five centimetre layer of mulch evenly over the soil with a shovel. “Organic mulches such as straw and bark break down over time, helping to nourish and improve the soil. Just avoid placing them too close to the stems of plants to avoid rotting,” says Tristan.
Some of us are lucky enough to have fruit-bearing trees in our garden and for them Tristan has plenty of summer gardening advice. “Deciduous trees that bear summer fruit benefit from a good prune as soon as the crop is harvested. Plants that bear new wood this season, such as peaches and nectarines, are also good candidates for a summer prune. Summer cuts heal quicker, so there’s less chance of disease entering the plant. It also helps promote a bumper crop for the following season, as it gives the plant plenty of time to develop lots of new fruit-producing growth instead,” says Tristan.
“Start by removing any dead, damaged or diseased limbs, then tackle any structural flaws like crossing or rubbing limbs and branches that grow inwards. Finally, cut back one third to one half of all growth made since spring,” says Tristan who advises using a pruner for thinner stems and a lopper for thicker branches.
“Most of us think of rose pruning as a winter job, but if you want to get the best out of repeat-flowering varieties, such as Autumn Damask or Gypsy Boy roses, then summer pruning is a must. After each flush of flowers simply prune off a third of the growth in a rounded shape using a pair of Cyclone straight hedge shears. Yes hedge shears! It’s that easy,” says Tristan who explains that the straight blades are perfect for precise pruning, while the stem cutter (known as a notched blade) on the shear is ideal for managing larger stems.
And the effort will way off. “You’ll be rewarded with another flourish of blooms six to eight weeks later. A great idea is to time your pruning ready for them to re-flower for a special event or garden party,” says Tristan.
Not only is composting a great way to use your kitchen and garden waste but it’s fabulous for your garden’s soil too. “Adding compost to your garden beds helps nourish and enrich the soil by encouraging healthy microbial activity, as well as improve its structure, drainage and moisture holding ability. Add a good balance of ‘green’ matter, like vegetable peelings and lawn clippings, and ‘brown’ matter like dry leaves, shredded newspaper and straw to the compost mix,” says Tristan.
“For the best quality compost turn your heap every three to four days – air is important to the decomposition process and turning re-heats the pile to keep it in an aerobic state, as well as eliminate odours,” says Tristan who recommends the Cyclone garden fork for the task. “The tines help create additional passageways for air and moisture in the pile while turning it, compared to a spade. The four tines are also forged from a single piece of steel, so they’re super tough and versatile,” says Tristan.