As we experience uncertain times in a world that has drastically changed, we are definitely getting a lot more done at home. Shelves are organized, refrigerators are clean, and now it’s time to start looking at the backyard. That large corner on the far end of your yard has become nothing more than a catch-all for kids’ toys and lawn equipment; wouldn’t it be nice to have a splendid summer garden to enjoy during this pause from the hustle and bustle we’ve become used to? We’ve created this guide to dos and don’ts to ensure your summer garden will be the envy of the neighborhood, even if they can only see it from periodic glimpses over the wall or out their bedroom window!
Choosing the Right Plants
First and foremost, be sure to choose flowers or vegetables that can survive the desert heat. When temperatures can reach 100 degrees plus, the wrong choices can lead to a big ugly dirt patch in the corner of your yard, instead of the picturesque green or floral landscape you’ve been imagining. Some flowers that thrive in the desert include hibiscus, lavender, and honeysuckle, all of which are colorful plants that survive in high temperatures and full sun.
If you’re planning a summer vegetable garden, choices can include sweet potatoes, okra, Armenian cucumbers, and basil. Summer vegetable gardens will do best in shaded areas, so perhaps you may want to choose to plant next to the gazebo you built last summer. Summer gardeners can also plant under a tree or create shade with shade cloth and garden stakes.
Conserving a Precious Resource
Irrigation is important as well. Considering an irrigation method such as a drip system can save you time, stress, and money, as well as saving precious resources. Determining how much water is needed is important and setting up a drip system ensures that you don’t have to think about it; the smart systems available today do all the thinking for you!
Even though it’s cooler for the gardener, night watering can lead to mold and diseases that attack the soil, so if you’ve been choosing to water the old-fashioned way with hose or water pail in the cooler hours of the night, you should probably reconsider your choice and think about installing a drip system and change your watering hours to morning; soaker systems work as well!
Protection from Storms
Although the desert is generally an arid space, during monsoon season the storms can be impressive, tearing through your carefully tended gardens, leaving a giant mess if not protected. Stakes, poles, and tomato cages can help plants stand strong against the worst of the storms, as can planting your garden in a protected area such as between the shed and the cinder block wall that surrounds your yard, under the eaves of your home, or under your covered patio, in the case of container gardens.
This is a step many people forget, but the right mulch can serve a variety of purposes in keeping a summer garden healthy. Mulch can prevent the soil from drying out as quickly, keep the soil cool, and protect the roots of the plants you are growing. Bark mulch is a popular choice, but be warned: Scorpions thrive in bark mulch, so if you have a critter problem, this may not be an option for you!
Container Gardens and Shade from the Sun
Not all desert dwellers have large yards with room for garden space. Many of us have little more than a patio and a postage stamp sized yard, but that’s ok. Container gardens don’t need a lot of space and can add a cheerful atmosphere to a boring patio with one caveat: If you don’t want your flowers, herbs, and vegetables withering away into brittle pieces of straw, they must be kept shaded during the hottest parts of the day (between 10 AM and 4 PM). They also need more watering than garden beds do, so count on watering twice a day.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help With Your Summer Garden
Sometimes gardening manuals can be boring and slightly incomprehensible as they discuss the pathology of plants and the specific pH levels of soil in the desert. We love the landscape part of our job and can help you make sense of the madness. There may be wrong ways to garden, but there are no wrong ways to learn how to create the garden of your dreams, including asking your favorite pool and landscaping business for tips and suggestions! Give us a call today and let’s talk about what your simple summer garden needs to become a splendid one!