Exact time to water garden to avoid 'burning leaves' during hot weather

Hose being sprayed on plants
-Credit: (Image: Getty)

As the mercury rises, our garden plants need a little help staying moist enough to thrive. Soaking them with water from the hose, however, may do more harm than good.

Gardening buffs know it's best to water during the cooler parts of the day. To help us all keep our gardens looking lush, experts from the National Trust have shared some tips on how to keep plants healthy and prevent damage during the heatwave.

Paul Mcklewright, garden and estate manager at Scotney Castle, said: "When the sun shines on water it can act like a magnifying glass, burning the leaves below." Because of this, knowing the best time to water the garden during the heatwave will help gardeners achieve the best results.

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Paul said: "It's best to water first thing in the morning or last thing at night to avoid damaging plants."

It's also vital to know which plants need more hydration than others. The gardening expert added: "Grass is very good at dealing with a lack of water; even if it turns brown it will be able to bounce back when the rains return later in the year. At Scotney, we never water grass, even in a heatwave."

According to the National Trust's guidance, surface-rooting plants such as lettuce and tomatoes will wilt quickly and require more watering, whereas deeper-rooting vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and potatoes may be more resilient.

Watering your plants shallowly and often might actually be doing them more harm than good, as it encourages roots to stay near the surface. Instead, a trick to make them drought-resistant is to water less frequently but more deeply.

This is particularly important when dealing with young plants, which are more adaptable to water availability and can adjust to irregular watering schedules.

With the responsibility of caring for 180 parks and gardens across the UK, the National Trust certainly has a few tricks up its sleeve for keeping gardens lush, even when summer rainfall is scarce.

Their expert said: "You may not need to water as much as you think, especially if the soil is healthy and the ground is covered by plants or mulches."

It's advised to water plants when signs of wilting appear, but avoid just dampening the soil's surface, which leads to shallow rooting. The ideal time for watering gardens is early in the morning or late in the evening.

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