Here in the UAE, we are fortunate to have 360 days of sunshine. The sky is blue, the spirits are high, the surf is up! However, from June to September, the weather can get a little… Too nice. In fact, the summer sun can get so intense that staying hydrated, high SPF and staying indoors becomes a big part of our lives. Naturally, animals and plants don’t have it too well either.
- TRY TO GROW HEAT-LOVING PLANTS
If you want to be able to worry less about your garden or balcony, look for plants that were bred for the desert or the tropics. Purple Heart or Purple Queen (Tradescantia Pallida), Sweetheart Plant (Philodendron Scandens), Natal Plum (Carissa Macrocarpa), Dwarf Jade Bush (Portulacaria Afra) and Elephant Bush (Portulacaria Afra) are some of the more resilient members of the plant kingdom.Another option is vegetable plants, such as tomatoes, southern peas, eggplant, peppers, okra, cowpeas and sweet potatoes. Note – some of these will drop their blossoms when the temperature regularly exceeds 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Bayut recommends that, during your next visit to Dubai Garden Centre, you ask for varieties that bear fruits despite the heat.
- WATER YOUR PLANTS WELL
In areas with extreme heat, such as Dubai or Abu Dhabi, the soil dries up faster making the plants wither faster. Consider setting up a reminder on your iPhone for all the watering that might slip your mind. Also, try to do more of deep watering, instead of shallow. Make the effort to regularly check your soil moisture level by using a trowel and digging, let’s say, 6” down. Also, plants are best watered in the morning while the soil is still cool and the water can easily run deeper into the soil to reach the roots.
- MAINTAIN SOIL ORGANIC MATTER
You should try to maintain healthy levels of organic matter as it can make a great difference in assisting the soil with water retention. Experts believe garden soil must possess between 5-9% of organic matter, depending on the climate and soil type. Beneficial soil organisms such as mycorrhizal fungi help plants to better tolerate drought-like conditions, so try to enrich your soil with that, or similar organisms.
- COVER THE SOIL WITH ORGANIC MULCH
In hot weather, one should always use grass clippings, straw and shredded leaves for mulch in order to prevent soil from drying up. However, be careful to use too much mulch as that can be harmful to the plant – a layer that’s too thick can prevent water from reaching the soil as mulch itself is known to absorb large quantities of it. A good 2-4 inches of much will do the trick.
- USE GARDEN SHADES
Gardening experts also say that partial shading during extreme heat can help reduce the temperature by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. There are plenty of options for garden owners when it comes to shading: pergolas, shade cloths or long strips of canvas, latticework screens or even old sheets and curtains (if you can make them look aesthetically pleasing). However, do note that your shading materials should be placed high enough not to obstruct ventilation.
Do not surround your garden with brick or crushed stone paths. These absorb heat during the day and continue to release it during the night which can affect your soil. You might end up with yellow grass in your garden. Also, avoid adding too many concrete paths and try to invest in organic mulch instead to keep the soil cooler.
We hope you enjoyed our top five gardening hacks for the hot UAE weather. Don’t forget to bring your gardening gloves, your high SPF sunscreen and a glass of ice-cold lemonade when you go about implementing them. If you’d like to have a garden to tinker with, consider renting a villa in Emirates Hills, Arabian Ranches, The Springs or The Meadows.