How to Protect Your Outdoor Plants from Heat Stress

Here in the Northeast, we’re known for our harsh winter weather. Anybody who lives here year-round though will tell you that our summers can be pretty brutal too! While our high temperatures and heat waves don’t last quite as long as those of our southern counterparts, a few weeks of intense heat is all it takes to destroy the progress you’ve made on your landscape.

As you’re caring for outdoor gardens, trees, and other plant life on your property during the summer, it’s important to take specific steps to combat the effects of heat stress. Follow the fundamental summer plant care tips below to keep your landscape looking lush and healthy through the hottest months of the year!

Be liberal with the mulch.

Mulch is one of the best tools in a landscaper’s arsenal when it comes to protecting plants from the summer heat. Adding a layer of mulch on top of your soil helps it to retain moisture and prevents it from suffering too much sun exposure. There are a ton of easy, economical materials you can mulch with, such as straw, grass clippings, compost, newspaper strips, sawdust, and more! The lighter the color of the mulch you use, the better it will reflect sunlight away from your plants and the underlying soil.

Oh, and don’t forget to mulch OUT, not up. Piling on the mulch will cause the soil to retain too much moisture, resulting in suffocation, rot, and damage for your plants.

Make sure you’re watering correctly.

Your instinct may be to water your plants at every chance you get to combat the heat and dry summer air, but this would be a mistake. Overwatering, like over-mulching, can cause root rot and disease due to excess moisture.

Stick to two to three deep soakings a week, focusing on fully saturating those roots. If you don’t water deep enough, the heat will evaporate the water before it reaches the root system and your plants won’t get the hydration they need. To reduce evaporation, water your plants early in the morning or in the evening hours, when the sun and temperatures are not as scorching.

Provide shade where possible.

If you expect a heat wave or find that certain spots in your garden or on your landscape are getting the worst of the sun, use shade cloths and covers to provide extra protection. Shade cloths are only temporary solutions, but they can be just what you need to get through the peak of the summer. Take care not to cover your plants too closely though, as this can actually trap more heat and impede their growth.

For a more permanent protective solution for your landscape, consider investing in a shade structure for your backyard. A pergola, arbor, or even stone retaining wall can provide heat relief for your plants while improving the look and function of your landscape as a whole!

Don’t disrupt the soil during a heat wave.

The more you move your soil around in the summer, the more trapped water will be released. If you take all the proper steps to keep your soil moist, but then dig it up to add new plants, weed, or prune, you’ll undo all of your hard work and dehydrate your growing plants anyway. Save these tasks for cooler days earlier in the summer and as they come throughout the season to minimize water loss in your soil. If you really need to tidy up your garden, just chop the weeds instead and remove them from the soil later.

If you’re worried about making a wrong move and letting the summer heat get the best of your landscape, call the grounds management team at VistaPro Landscape & Design. We can keep your garden, trees, shrubbery, and other plant life in top shape in any season, so you don’t have to stress.

Reach out to us today to book our grounds management services for your residential or commercial property!