We've all been there - outside on a Brisbane summer's day, the sun's bearing down, your mouth is parched and all you can think about is a cool, refreshing drink. During our hot summer days, it can be a struggle to stay hydrated, and the same is true for our plants.
Whether you are new to gardening or have an experienced green thumb, we have some tips to help your garden beat the heat and stay happy and healthy over the summer.
Be a super-soaker
Living in Brisbane, you know that even in the rainy months we need to carefully consider how we use water. Using the garden hose wisely, we can keep our gardens lush and lively while preserving water now and for the future.
Start by thinking about smart watering solutions, like washing the car on the grass, watering the garden with greywater, and installing a rainwater tank, raingarden or simple drip irrigation system.
Remember, just like us, a plant sweating it out in the sun will work up more of a thirst than a plant happily lounging in the shade all day. Always check before you water your plants by inserting a finger into the soil to check if it is wet or dry. When needed, give your plants a good soaking using a low-pressure hose. This will encourage deep root growth and help keep them hydrated for longer. You’re aiming for the water to soak 10 cm deep.
Thank you very mulch!
Adding mulch to your garden can help your soil retain up to 70% more moisture. Mulch has other benefits as well, like suppressing weeds, acting as a slow-release fertiliser and providing a home for plant-friendly insects and microorganisms.
Add mulch in a 10-centimetre deep layer on top of the soil around your plants but be careful to keep the mulch away from plant stems to avoid brown collar rot. As the mulch breaks down, add more to the top layer.
Making your own mulch is easy using natural waste from your garden like leaves, grass clippings and prunings.
Get the plant gang together
We all love Brisbane's subtropical climate, and so do a wide variety of plants. Choosing plants that will thrive and carefully designing your garden will help keep your garden happy for many summers to come. How much sun does your garden receive during the day? Is the garden steep or flat? What kind of soil do you have? The answers will all impact what you plant and how much you need to water.
Group your plants by how much water and shade they need and use companion planting so your plants can share their shady tendencies for good. For example, put shade-loving plants among your taller trees and shrubs. The taller plants will provide shade and leaf mulch while the low-growing plants will keep the ground cool and damp.
Living in a townhouse or unit doesn't mean forgoing a life of green. With some careful planning, you can create a sprightly balcony or indoor plant garden to add life and colour to your home.
Here are a few things to keep in mind for plants living the high life:
- potted plants can dry out more quickly than those in a garden bed, especially over summer
- we have free native plants to suit balconies and smaller spaces too
- take note of how much sun and wind your balcony receives – it can be a different situation to the climate down on the ground
- keep your garden simple and low-maintenance – succulents are a fun, heat-loving choice.
Get your hands dirty
Want to get your hands dirty but don’t want to commit to a garden at home? Community gardens are a great way to get outdoors, stay active and healthy, meet your neighbours and build a sense of community.
You can also help keep Brisbane clean and green and reduce organic food waste going to landfill by bringing your food scraps to any of our community composting hubs located at community gardens across the city.
What's even better than showing some local pride with native plants in your garden? Getting your native plants for free!
Council's Free Native Plants Program has a range of plants suited to Brisbane soils and climate giving you the chance to help grow our urban forest, support native wildlife and opt for more drought-resistant species.
We offer several ways for you, your school or your community group to receive their free native plants, so check eligibility and how you can pick up your plants today.