Melina Scodanibbio, a freelance garden designer, offers some quick tips to keep your patch of Maltese rock looking green through a Maltese summer. Whether you’ve a few planters, a courtyard, roof terrace or some precious soil, work with rather than against what Malta’s climate and soil offer, she says.
Gardening in Malta’s heat, drought & dust
With summer heat rapidly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about what we can do to help our plants through the warmest and driest months. As spring’s profusion of blooms starts to fade, many plants will go dormant to survive the drought-stress. Keeping them neatly clipped will ensure they still look good among their greener neighbours. Here are a few easy tips which can facilitate summer gardening tasks.
Plan ahead – choose hardy Mediterranean plants which, once established, are drought-tolerant and very low maintenance. Favour perennials over annuals as their deeper root systems allow for less frequent watering.
Increase the intervals between watering by using large pots and planters as the soil will dry very quickly in small ones.
Improve the soil by adding peat and compost. A high organic content means better water retention.
Mulch! A layer of bark mulch or pebbles decreases evaporation, traps moisture in the soil and keeps the roots cool. Mulch will also greatly reduce the amount of weeds which, apart from being an unsightly nuisance, also compete with plants for water and soil nutrients.
Deep and less frequent watering is preferable to frequent shallow watering as this will encourage roots to grow deeper where they are less likely to dry out.
Group plants according to their water needs – concentrate on the thirstier ones without wasting precious water on those that don’t need it. The more delicate ones in pots can also be temporarily relocated away from the sun’s harsh glare, for example in the dappled shade of a tree.
Consider a drip irrigation system even in the smallest of gardens and patios. A drip system will lessen water consumption considerably by applying water only where it is needed and slowly soaking the soil thereby reducing evaporation. It will also put your mind at rest when you are away on holiday.
Melina Scodanibbio, Garden Designer
Contact Melina on +356 79734379 and see her website.
Photo: Sea daffodil by Leslie Vella.