Protect yourself and your plants while gardening in the summer heat

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With the weather warming up, many Atlanta residents are more than ready to get outside and play in the dirt. Planting vegetables, trimming shrubs and potting flowers for the porch are among the season’s gardening tasks.

However, as the temperatures rise, it’s important to take care of both yourself and your plants. To help you and your plants stay safe while gardening in the summer heat, follow these tips.

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Tips to protect yourself

  1. Always wear sunscreen and protective clothing. “Protect your skin by wearing a hat and long sleeves, but not tight,” Brittany Harper, Pike Nurseries’ marketing manager, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Opt for a loose, breathable fabric.” She also recommends wearing sunglasses that block ultraviolet rays.
  2. Work in the garden early in the morning or during the early evening to avoid the hottest part of the day.
  3. Take frequent breaks. “Seek out a shady area to take rest breaks and enjoy the outdoors,” said David Siegler, manager of Blackburn Community Garden in Brookhaven.
  4. Stay hydrated. “Bring a water bottle if you’re outside for a long period of time to remind yourself to drink,” Harper said.
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Tips to protect your plants

One of the primary ways to protect your plants from the summer heat is to place plants according to their light needs. If you place a shade-loving plant in full sun, expect to water it often and see wilted leaves or blooms.

“The best results come from matching plants to the area that you’re looking to put them,” Siegler said. “Also look for species that are drought tolerant and deer resistant if you have them.”

Another key way to protect plants from the summer heat is to water them.

“As we creep toward summertime, we inevitably get less rain than we do in spring,” Harper said. “Less rain combined with summer heat and sun means more supplemental watering for some plants.”

Here are Harper’s tips to keep your plants watered to protect them from the summer heat:

  1. Plants in containers and hanging baskets will likely need water on a daily basis. Always use the touch test before watering to make sure it’s needed. Stick your finger about 3 inches into the soil. If still moist, skip and check again the next day.
  2. Plants in the landscape will benefit from a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch to help retain soil moisture so you can water less frequently.
  3. For garden beds, use drip irrigation or soaker hoses attached to a faucet timer to deliver water at the soil level.
  4. Newly planted trees and shrubs need consistent watering to ensure their root systems sufficiently develop. Try a soaker hose or watering bags. “(Water bags) deliver water slowly over the course of the week right at the root system of new trees and shrubs,” Harper said.
  5. Water early in the morning so water can soak into the soil before it evaporates in the heat.

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