Hartley Magazine

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Watering ‘is not the only gardening solution to dry conditions’

Gardeners are advised to turn to a wide range of solutions when dealing with dry conditions.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) claimed it receives a great deal of enquiries expressing concern that they will be forced to deal with this situation more and more often as a result of issues relating to climate change.

However, chief horticultural adviser for the organization Guy Barter asserted there are a wide range of solutions to high temperatures and drought conditions that do not involve watering.

"For example, spiking and feeding a lawn in spring will help it hold up in dry weather – and if it does go brown, it will recover even faster when rain returns," he explained.

The RHS emphasised the importance of soil cultivation, advising gardeners to accumulate large quantities of compost.

This can then be used in tandem with manure and other organic matter to improve soil structure. Water retention in plants is also improved as a result of this action, which ensures they will have plenty of access to hydration.

Mulching is also recommended, which involves recycling garden waste and layering a fine layer of the resulting substance around the base of a plant.

Water loss through soil is severely limited as a result of this action and also assists with the retention of water.

It is particularly essential to do this for new plants, as they need to be thoroughly watered for their first season, especially in dry spells when this will be more difficult for the sturdiest growths.

A higher tolerance to drought can be developed as a result of this and new plants should also be pruned on a regular basis.

When they are still small, this will ensure they become more resilient and are able to adapt to the needs of the climate conditions that surround them.

"Mulching plants regularly we have found is the best way to counteract the effects," curator of the RHS garden in Wisely Colin Crosbie remarked.

"Whatever gardeners do, they should avoid planting in new plants during dry periods – the effort in keeping them alive is just too great," the expert continued.

Delaying planting until autumn is suggested if possible, as this will allow them to establish roots with convenient access to the optimum underground sources of water prior to hotter temperatures setting in.

Greenhouses may be a good solution for those who are concerned the colder season may also be unfavourable.

Writing in the Courier Journal, author of Herbs! Creative Herb Garden Themes and Projects Judy Lowe suggested this is a strong option for those who wish to grow some colourful plants.

This could apply to flowers such as the anthurium, also known as the Flamingo Flower or Boy Flower because of its structure of the spathe and spadix, which is usually found in hotter locations throughout the world such as Central America and South America, as well as some semi-arid environments.

It is also important to ensure the right species is selected in the first place and matching it to a suitable type of soil. This will maximise its adaptability and can dictate how it copes with weather that is not necessarily ideal, in addition to increasing resistance to disease and pests.

Mr Barter emphasised the importance of this advice, even to those who are confident they are not in an area that will experience drought conditions in the near future.

"By following our suggestions they will not only be following good gardening practice but also will be preparing for the occasional very dry summers," he commented, adding: "Improving the soil is especially important, as this also helps good drainage too."