What to do in your garden this summer

Summer delivers an abundance of blooms, but there’s still plenty on our expert’s garden to-do list.
Photographer: Abbie Melle

Being the hottest season, summer gardening can bring some challenging growing conditions. But, there’s still plenty to do in the garden this time of year, and I don’t just mean watering! Gardening is my favourite way to savour the peaceful moments before heading back to busy post-holiday routines and to make the best of the season I’ve put together my top summer gardening tips to keep your plants happy and healthy.

Summer garden checklist

1. Watering and mulching

Following new growth in spring, this month will provide you with the most amazing blooms and abundant produce. But before we get into that, let me first remind you of the importance of watering and mulching at this time of year. The right mulch will help your plants retain moisture and protect their delicate root systems, while a good early morning or late afternoon drink will help make sure your garden has what it takes to survive those hot summer days that lie ahead.

The ideal time to water your garden is early in the morning or in the evening. This gives the plants time to absorb the water that gets them through the long, hot days. I would highly recommend installing an automated watering system to help stay on top of watering, especially if you are heading away over the summer holidays. While these can seem overwhelming and expensive, there are plenty of achievable DIY options. At most hardware stores, you can pick up a fully automated watering system for under fifty dollars.

(Photography: Claire Takacs)

“The ideal time to water your garden is early in the morning or in the evening.”

Ashley James

I’d also recommend feeding your garden using a non-synthetic fertiliser like potash or liquid seaweed. This can help promote new growth, aid fruiting and will keep your plants strong and healthy so they’re better able to withstand the summer heat.

A green bean plant hanging with pods.
Green beans. (Photo: Getty Images)

2. Pinch your flower tips

Now we have that sorted, it’s time to pinch your blooms. When it comes to some flowering plants, such as dahlias and zinnias, you will want to remove or ‘pinch’ the tips to encourage lateral growth. When your plants are around 20 to 40 centimetres tall and have developed three to four sets of leaves, simply ‘pinch’ off the main stem just above a set of leaves. This will lead to more side stems and ultimately, more flowers.

Pink globe dahlias.
Pink globe dahlias. (Photo: Getty Images)

3. Deadhead roses

While you have your secateurs in hand, be sure you keep up with deadheading your roses at this time of year. If they have finished flowering, now is the time for a quick summer prune. Simply cut back each stem to just above the third set of leaves. Follow with a feed of non-synthetic liquid fertiliser to ensure you receive a nice flush of flowers in autumn.

Close up of pink roses growing at a garden in Perth
Pink roses. (Photographer: Jody D’Arcy | Styling: Jo Carmichael)
  • Alyssum
  • Hollyhocks
  • Nasturtiums
  • Poppies
  • Baby’s breath
  • Cosmos
  • Sweet pea
  • Cootamundra wattle
What to plant in summer

4. Opt for native flowers

As a garden designer known for my cottage gardens, you may be forgiven in thinking that I don’t include Australian natives in my designs. With the changing climate, it’s especially important to use a range of plants for a resilient garden. Here are a few species I love to work with:

Leucophyta brownii (Cushion Bush) adds striking texture to any garden with its stunning foliage and neat dome shape. Resistant to drought, frost and salt spray, this tough shrub is great to use alongside pathways and rocks, and produces beautiful silvery-white flowers during summer.

Silver cushion bush.
Silver Cushion Bush. (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Anigozanthos (Kangaroo Paw) with stems that can reach over a metre tall, this robust plant is a stunning feature in any garden. They’re available in just about every colour and even work well in pots. My advice when using any variety of Kangaroo Paw in your garden is to mass plant them!

Brachyscome multifida (Cut Leaf Daisy) is a sprawling perennial that reaches around 30 centimetres in height. With masses of dainty flowers and interesting foliage, it immediately adds interest and texture to your garden.

Blooming pink cut-leaved daisy.
Pink Cut Leaf Daisies. (Photo: Getty Images)

5. Time to harvest!

Finally, it’s time to enjoy the bounty of your summer garden! It’s only here for a short time, so grab a harvest basket, head outside and reap the benefits of all the hard work you’ve put into your plot over the past few months. Harvest your strawberries, beans and tomatoes, collect cut flowers to display in your home and soak up the fun of an alfresco summer.

  • Strawberries
  • Green beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Dahlias
  • Zinnias
  • Calla lily
  • Hydrangea
What to harvest in summer

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