Days are longer, temperatures are on the rise, and the sun is sitting higher in the sky. Summer has definitely arrived and, with it, a different set of challenges for the home gardener.

Growth rates, moisture requirements, pest and disease activity are all about to peak. So here’s a set of tips to help get you through the next couple of months of hot weather.

• Those who read this column regularly will be familiar with my first three rules of gardening – Mulch, mulch, mulch. Summer is the time when the sun is at its most fierce. The burning evaporative effects of the late afternoon sun can see your soil bake to dry very quickly, leaving your precious plants gagging for moisture! A layer of mulch forms a protective barrier between your soil and the sun and up to 70 per cent of soil moisture can be retained.

• Mulch also protects your soil from the erosive effects of the heavy rains and strong winds often associated with violent summer storms. We’ve already experienced a few good ones this season and the long term forecast promises more to come.

• It’s important to keep lawns healthy during the hot months and one of the most common mistakes people make is to scalp their lawn by setting mower heights too low. Like all plants, grasses need healthy leaves to be at their best and cutting to near ground level leaves the plants susceptible to pest and disease infestation. A good healthy leaf growth also forms a living mulch, locking moisture into the plant and the underlying soil. My fourth rule of gardening – mow high and mow often.

• Keep your annuals, perennials, and shrubs looking great and producing their beautiful blooms by dead-heading spent blossoms regularly. A liquid feed every couple of weeks helps ensure continuing bounty as well.

• It’s the same story for vegetables as well. Keep picking fruiting vegetables to ensure an ongoing crop and, again, liquid feed every couple of weeks. Keep planting small amounts of leafy and root vegetables each week so you and your family can enjoy beautiful bounty all summer long.

• Check all your plants for pests and diseases. The warm wet weather we have been experiencing lately makes the garden particularly susceptible to infestation and infection. Keep an eye out for aphids and black spot on roses and check your vegetables daily for fungal diseases and pests.

• Whatever method you employ to irrigate the home garden, it’s important to monitor regularly to ensure sufficient moisture is being directed to where it is needed. It is particularly important to ensure all components of automatic irrigation systems are in perfect working order. Check solenoids, timers, hoses, sprayers, drippers, and risers to ensure there are no leaks.

If you need any advice on summer gardening or Christmas gift ideas, head on up to Mayfield Nursery and talk to Matt, Banjo or Maria, or you can call us on 6336 3131.

We’ve got years of horticultural experience and would love to help you out. Mayfield Garden Nursery is open from 9 to 4:30, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year (closed only Christmas day and Boxing Day).

Mayfield Garden Nursery – Tip of the Week

Santa’s coming!!

Short on gift ideas this Christmas? Not only does Mayfield Nursery have an extensive range of plants to choose from, but our gift shop is bursting with great gift ideas to satisfy the hardest people to buy for. Books, pots, gardening paraphernalia, kitchen items, candles, and much, much more. We’ve got the lot!