Hot weather brings thoughts of avoiding the heat and special care for gardens and landscape plants.

You earn double rewards whenever special attention is given to protecting plants. They will do far better and you save on water. Water conservation is becoming an ever more pressing need with Texas Cooperative Extension promoting good uses of water.

The Extension Service advises a 4- to 6-inch layer of organic mulch can reduce water needs by as much as 50 percent. Mulch reduces weeds, which draw moisture from the soil, and reduces evaporation of moisture directly from the soil.

Layers of compost or leaves hold some water themselves to increase the humidity level around a plant.

Black plastic mulch also conserves moisture, but may dramatically increase soil temperatures during summer, Extension Service specialists say.

Shading helps if the plants receive sufficient sunlight. Windbreaks may be another good response to your needs.

Henry L. Alsmeyer, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Posted in Shade Gardening