How to keep gardens alive during SA’s dry spell



Nick Gowling, from Strath Hire and Landscape, waters a garden in Strathalbyn. Picture: Naomi JellicoeSource:News Corp Australia



Shade cloth is a simple saviour for parched gardens during South Australia’s big dry, gardening expert Jon Lamb says.



As the state continutes to experience its fourth driest period in recorded history, Mr Lamb urges gardeners to embrace woven polyester to protect their plants.


“The number of heatwaves that we’ve experienced here in SA has doubled in the past 50 years and it’s the heatwaves that are causing the damage,” he says.


“There’s an urgent need for the nursery industry to educate gardners on the use of shade cloth because…vegetable gardeners who use shade cloth have come through the heat virtually unscathed (because) shade cloth dramatically reduces the temperature around the plant’s leaves and also protects their roots from getting burnt.”



For those whose gardens are looking a little worse for wear after the extreme weather, there are some things that can be done to rejuvenate flora.


“Add a seaweed solution (because) it just stimulates the plants…back into good health,” Mr Lamb says.


“(And) use a soil wetting product (as) this will improve how the water soaks through the plants root system.


“Don’t be tempted to prune off all the burnt bits because they will protect the plant from the next heatwave (and) don’t fertilise your plants because that will aggravate their roots when they’re suffering heat stress.”


Nick Gowling, from Strath Hire and Landscape, said many gardeners were turning to mulch to protect their plants.


“There’s a lot of people in that are buying mulch, just to save water (because) it traps the water underneath and keeps the soil nice and wet,” he said.


On Thursday, SA recorded its fourth-driest period in recorded history when not a drop of water was recorded at the West Tce recording station for 43 consectuive days and no H2O has fallen since.


Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Brett Gage said there was a chance rain could fall in the middle of next week.


“For Adelaide we do have a slight chance of rain forecast for Wednesday,” he said.


“We could see a possible thunderstorm over the Mount Lofty Ranges.


“And we do have a slight chance of a shower on Monday in the southern suburbs.”


However, to officially break the dry spell, 0.2 of a millimetre would need to be recorded at the Bureau’s West Tce station.


Jon Lambs tips to keep your garden green


When watering, water deep


Plant survival will be increased dramatically if you soak the plant’s root zone before heatwave weather sets in.


Location, location


The most water-responsive roots on trees and shrubs are placed just below the plant’s outer canopy (drip ring). This is the best place to water.


Position, position


Always water in the same position. The plants will respond quickly by concentrating their moisture-seeking roots in this area.This is the principle at work when you use drip irrigation. In essence, you end up watering the plant’s roots and not the bare spaces in between.


Better bucketing


The effectiveness of bucket and hand-watering cans is increased by 200-300 per cent simply by digging a shallow trench or basin around the plant’s drip ring. This will allow you to place water at the right location and in the right position.


When evening


is best


During hot weather, watering the garden in the evening will give your plants maximum time to restore moisture lost through the day from transpiration.


Better watering


Plants that will normally get by with watering once a week during warm weather may need supplementary watering when conditions are hot. Small plants will need watering more often than those that are medium or large. Plants growing in sandy soil will need watering more frequently than those growing in clay.



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