Dealing With Summer Weather Extremes In the Garden

Sometimes in summer it can seem as though we are careering from one weather extreme to another. One month we do not see a drop of rain for weeks, the next we get a constant deluge that brings with it an entirely different set of problems. No matter where you live, you will no doubt have experienced either prolonged periods of dry weather or extremely wet conditions – perhaps both in the same summer. But how can we deal with these extremes when even the weather forecasters do not really know what to expect? Here are some ways to weather the weather extremes that could help you in your garden:

Dealing With Dry Weather and Drought

Harvesting rainwater:

Every garden should have a rainwater recovery system to make the most of whatever rainfall there is throughout the year. Attach butts to downpipes on your home. Rain water is better for watering than tap water.


Mulching the ground around plants will aid in water retention. Choose organic mulches that will feed plants and enrich the soil as well as slowing evaporation of moisture from the soil.

Forest GardenProviding Shade:

Plant trees and grow crops prone to bolting in hot, dry weather in the shade of other plants. Companion planting, layered beds and inter-cropping will help you to create a number of different ecosystems that will be more resilient in case of drought.

Clay PotClay Pot Irrigation/Drip Feeding & Other Small Scale Irrigation Methods:

Intelligent watering systems will help you to reduce the amount of water needed to irrigate your crops and keep your garden going in dry periods. Clay pots buried in the soil near plants will allow you to direct water to roots where it is needed. Rags drawing water to containers will allow plants to take only the water they need. Perforated hoses can also be used to water wisely.

Larger Scale Irrigation Swales

In larger gardens and smallholdings, swales, or ditches, can create larger scale irrigation systems and allow cultivation of more thirsty plants in more arid places.

Dealing With A Deluge

Alder WoodsPlant Trees/Re-forest:

Trees can be wonderful at containing floodwater and reducing flooding. Some trees thrive in waterlogged soil and help to dry things out.

Ground Cover to Prevent Surface Run-Off and Nutrient Leaching:

Trees, underplanted with good ground cover of water-tolerant plants will also help gardeners deal with a deluge. These trees and the ground cover will help to prevent water run-off and nutrient leaching from the soil in heavy rain.

SwaleDirect Flood Waters With Swales/ Ditches:

If your garden is particularly prone to flooding, you can be prepared with a series of channels, swales and ditches to direct and make use of the flood water.

With both types of summer weather extreme, clever planting is one of the key strategies to make sure that your garden can survive whatever is thrown at it. Make sure you know the local conditions where you live and plant accordingly.