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10 Ways to Help Your Garden Survive Summer

The days are beginning to warm up, and the anxiety about how your garden will survive the intense summer heat is rising as fast as the mercury in the thermometer. 

Here are 10 ways to help your garden survive summer. Take a deep breath, grab a cool drink, and read them under the shade of your favorite tree before it gets too hot. 

10 Ways to Help Your Garden Survive Summer

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for more information.

1. Plant your garden at the right time

If you do nothing else on this list, this one tip will help you be successful. Use a planting guide meant for your area and follow it. Planting at the right time helps garden plants be established before summer’s heat comes. Healthy plants tolerate hot summer weather better than those struggling to get established. 

If you live in the low desert of Arizona, click here to see the planting guides I use.  If you live in other areas, use this post, “How to Find a Planting Guide For Your Area,” to help you find a reliable guide.

10 Ways to Help Your Garden Survive Summer

2. Choose the right plants for your garden

Look for varieties of crops adapted to do well in your area. If certain diseases are a problem, look for disease-resistant types. If you have shorter seasons as we do here in the low desert of Arizona, choose lower “days to harvest” varieties.

Examples of heat-loving plants include sweet potatoes, okra, Malabar spinach, asparagus beans, roselle hibiscus, and basil.

3. Be aware of microclimates in your yard

Pay attention to both the sunny and shady areas of your yard, especially during the year’s hottest months. Knowing which areas will be affected the most by the hot late-afternoon sun, the sun’s angle changes.

10 Ways to Help Your Garden Survive Summer

4. Water your garden correctly to help it survive the summer

Most problems in the garden can be traced back to watering issues, such as not enough, too much, or sporadic. Invest in some sort of automated system. A watering system can be as simple as a battery-powered timer connected to a garden hose. Consistent watering will make all the difference in your garden. 

Water in the early morning gives the roots time to absorb the moisture. Watering during cooler hours also reduces loss from evaporation and heat.

For more information about how to correctly water your garden, read this article. 

5. Mulch, mulch, mulch to help your garden survive summer

What to use for mulch in a hot climate summer garden

Mulch is a hot summer gardener’s best friend. Add 3-5 inches of organic mulch (compost, composted mulch, *straw, shredded leaves, pine needles, newspaper, cardboard) to see these benefits: 

  • Helps retain moisture
  • Helps keep soil cool
  • Deters weeds 
  • Adds organic matter to soil as it decomposes
What to use for mulch in a hot climate summer garden

*Straw is a better option for mulch than hay because hay often contains seeds that can sprout in the garden. Straw typically has fewer seeds, and sprouting is less of a problem.

10 Ways to Help Your Garden Survive Summer

6. Provide shade for your summer garden

Nearly all plants benefit from some afternoon shade during the hottest months of the year. Providing shade is like giving your plants a layer of sunscreen. This article gives several ideas for adding shade to your garden.

10 Ways to Help Your Garden Survive Summer

Here are some guidelines for selecting shade cloth fabric: 

7. Keep an eye on the wind

During the summer, hot, dry wind can take a toll on your plants. Ensure your young trees have support and any shade structures or trellises are adequately secured. Windy air also increases moisture loss in plants. After a windstorm, give your plants a big drink to replenish the lost moisture.

10 Ways to Help Your Garden Survive Summer

8. Don’t let the dust settle

Dust storms are stressful on plants. If a dust storm isn’t followed by rain, you may need to do the job and rinse the dust off your plants.

10 Ways to Help Your Garden Survive Summer

9. Baby your containers to help them survive the summer

Containers heat up more quickly than in-ground plants and dry out even quicker. Because plants’ roots in containers can’t seek out moisture and cooler temperatures below ground, they rely on you to provide everything they need. 

10 Ways to Help Your Garden Survive Summer

Plants in containers often need to be watered every day during the year’s hottest months. Use a moisture meter to check if they need water to prevent over-watering. (This is the moisture meter I use from Amazon.) If possible, consider moving containers to the more shaded or covered areas of your yard.

10 Ways to Help Your Garden Survive Summer

I use ollas from Growoya in all my containers. I think they are the best way to water outdoor potted plants. If you want more information about using ollas, check out their website. Use code GROWING to save.

10. Adjust expectations

10 Ways to Help Your Garden Survive Summer

If you live in a hot summer climate, your garden will probably not look its best during the heat of the summer. Pollen in tomato and pepper plants isn’t viable when temperatures are over 100℉. Many plants focus on staying alive rather than growing during scorching weather. 

Plant Heat-Tolerant Cover Crops Instead Take the summer off!

In this article, learn more about using cover crops during summer to improve garden soil.

As temperatures begin to cool in the fall, plants (like us) will be relieved and welcome the cooler temperatures.

10 Ways to Help Your Garden Survive Summer

Would you like to learn more about summer gardening in hot climates?

If this post about helping your garden survive summer was helpful, please share it:

Carol Komassa

Saturday 21st of May 2022

When I attended the Master Gardening Course 2 years ago we were told "moisture meters are not accurate".

Carol DeRegis

Tuesday 16th of June 2020

I learned a lot! Thank you. It's June and I'm still growing brussels sprouts. They look healthy but started late. Also have a eggplant that is blooming and has one growing! I have an umbrella up on the west side of the garden. I'll start giving the garden more showers on dusty days coming. I'm going to be optimitic going into this summer!

Angela Judd

Tuesday 16th of June 2020

So glad it was helpful. Best of luck with your summer garden!

Angela Judd

Thursday 9th of April 2020

You're welcome, thank you for commenting and for the kind words.