Summer can be a challenging time, not just for us humans, but also for plants. Summer heat and dryness can severely stress plants, trees, and shrubs. Intense heat and winds can rob plants of their moisture and nutrients, causing them to die prematurely.

While we do not have any control over the weather, there are various things we can do to maintain the health of plants. Below are some tips to protect plants in your landscape from the summer heat.

Take Steps to Minimize Soil Moisture Loss


Use Drip Irrigation Whenever Possible for Watering

Wilting is a common problem in the summer. It happens when plants lose more water than they absorb. During the hot summer months, water evaporates very quickly. To prevent this a regular watering schedule is key as is the use of drip irrigation. Drip irrigation allows a slow but deliberate watering of your plants and keeps the water near the plant for more efficient watering. The best practice is to use a minimum of two properly sized drip emitters per plant to distribute the water uniformly around the root ball.

Use a Smart Irrigation Controller

Smart Irrigation Timers / Controllers are as the name implies, smart. These controllers are capable of reacting to the previous weather conditions as well as future weather predictions. These Weather-based controllers are a great tool to get the right amount of water to your plants during seasonally hot or cold weather, by adjusting the amount of water a plant needs on a daily basis. The environmental control combined with the practice of properly installed drip irrigation can reduce landscape water use from 25% up to 50%.

Choose a Time to Water Plants

The best time to water plants in summer is right before sunrise. Watering plants before the sun starts beating down is an effective way to ensure that they retain moisture. The worst time to water plants in summer is between 12 PM and 5 PM.  Be cautious watering your plants after sunset if possible due to mold and disease issues. After sunset, watering can be done, but extra care in monitoring plant health may be necessary.

Add Mulch

To protect the soil from direct sun exposure, add a light-colored wood mulch to insulate the plant and surrounding area from the sun’s midafternoon heat.  A light-colored mulch will reflect sunlight, allowing the soil to retain water for a longer period. Mulch also insulates and protects the plant in winter months as well.

Remove Weeds Regularly

Weeds compete with plants for moisture and nutrients. They can soak up a substantial amount of water, leaving your plants high and dry. To prevent this, weed your garden every week.

Shade Your Garden


Use Shade Covers

You can buy a shade cover from your local garden center. Alternatively, you can use old window screens, old sheets, or wood lattice panels to protect your plants from extreme heat. When covering your plants, ensure that the shade cover is placed several inches above them. If used correctly, a shade cover can reduce sun exposure by up to 50 percent.

Many landscape contractors in Santa Rosa recommend using patio umbrellas for small gardens. If you want to provide shade with a patio umbrella, make sure it shades the entire garden.

Protect Your Transplants

Transplants do not do well in extreme heat. Avoid moving them to your garden in summer. If, however, this is not an option, put them in the shade of larger plants.

Want to create the garden of your dreams but do not know how to start? Let experts at Sweetwater Landscape help. We are a team of passionate landscapers. We will transform your ordinary backyard into a paradise where you can relax and de-stress. To make an appointment, call us at 707-887-0140.