The great outdoors are an important part of the Aussie way of life. And what better time to make the most of them than during the sizzling summer. With balmy nights and beautiful weather, summer is an ideal time to show the backyard some TLC, with many plants and trees blossoming during the warmer months. 
“Numerours plants burst into bloom or bear fruit at this time of year," says Tristan Eastaugh, product manager at gardening tool company Cyclone. "But the hotter weather can also be tough on our plants.
"Whenever you’re working in the backyard in summer, its important to do hard work when it’s cool – either early in the morning or later in day."
These are some of his top tips for keeping your outdoor space, cool, calm and under control this swelter season.
 

1. Mulch mulch mulch!

A fresh layer of mulch helps to conserve moisture and suppress weeds. In fact, mulch can reduce evaporation from the soil surface by as much as 70 per cent when applied correctly, so it’s a vital ingredient in creating a water efficient garden. It can also help prevent soil erosion and even out temperature variations. First, it’s important to give the area a good weed and soak, then spread a 5cm layer of mulch evenly over the soil using a shovel. Organic mulches, such as straw and bark, break down over time, helping to nourish and improve the soil; just avoid placing them too close to the stems of plants to avoid rotting.

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2. Fruitful planning 

Deciduous trees that bear summer fruit benefit from a good prune as soon as the crop is harvested. Plants that bear new wood this season, such as peaches and nectarines, are also good candidates for a summer prune. Summer cuts heal quicker so there’s less chance of disease entering the plant. Pruning also helps promote a bumper crop for the following season as it gives the plant plenty of time to develop lots of new fruit-producing growth instead. Start by removing any dead, damaged or diseased limbs, then tackle any structural flaws - like crossing or rubbing limbs, or branches that grow inwards. Finally, cut back one third to one half of all growth made since spring. 

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3. Prolong perennial colour

Similarly, pruning faded or dead flowers reaps great benefits at this time of year. Summer is the height of perennial colour, with vibrant species like Rudbeckias, Salvias, Phlox and Blanket in bloom. This action of ‘dead-heading’ not only keeps plants looking tidy, it can prolong the flowering of some perennials and encourage another flush of flowers.
 
 

4. Ruffle up the roses

Most of us think of rose pruning as a winter job, but if you want to get the best out of repeat-flowering varieties, such as Autumn Damask or Gypsy Boy roses, then summer pruning is a must. After each flush of flowers simply prune off a third of the growth in a rounded shape using a pair of hedge shears. It’s that easy. The straight blades are perfect for precise pruning, while the stem cutter (known as a notched blade) on the shear is ideal for managing larger stems with ease. You’ll be rewarded with another flourish of blooms six to eight weeks later. You can even time your pruning so that your rose bushes will be ready to re-flower for a special event or garden party.

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5. Improve your soil

Warmer weather is great for giving your compost heap an extra boost. It’s also an environmentally friendly way to recycle any additional kitchen and garden waste generated over the summer months.
Adding compost to your garden beds helps nourish and enrich the soil by encouraging healthy microbial activity, as well as improinge its structure, drainage and moisture-holding ability. Add a good balance of ‘green’ matter - like vegetable peelings and lawn clippings, and ‘brown’ matter - like dry leaves, shredded newspaper and straw to the compost mix. For the best quality compost turn your heap every three to four days – air is important to the decomposition process and turning re-heats the pile to keep it in an aerobic state, as well as eliminate odours. Using a fork instead of a spade is the best choice for this task, as the tines help create additional passageways for air and moisture in the pile.
This blog post was courtesy of Cyclone tools. The Cyclone garden range comes with a lifetime warranty and is available nationwide at Bunnings Warehouse stores and all good garden and hardware retailers. For more interior design or style inspiration, visit one of our award-winning display homes, or check out our style gallery, where you can save and organise all your favourite Metricon home designs