Published on June 24th, 2016 | by Guest Contributor

Seven Gardening Hacks for Green and Not so Green Thumbs.

Gardening season is upon us and I know how excited all you green thumbs are out there. Few things are as satisfying to the avid gardener as watching your work come to fruition throughout the season. And even those who can kill a plant just by looking at it (that used to be me) get great joy out of helping something grow.

But this season will have its challenges – mainly because it’s going to be one of the hottest summers ever. Combine that with the fact that you might be going away, and it can be difficult to know how you’re going to keep the garden growing.

I talked with outdoor design and lifestyle expert and HGTV and CityTV personality Carson Arthur (http://www.carsonarthur.com), and asked him for his favourite gardening hacks and tricks for growing the lawn and garden, beating the heat, and maintaining things in absentia. Here’s what he said:

For when you are away

Use hydro gels.
“The liners in diapers can hold about nine cups of water, and they’re made of hydro gels which are perfectly safe for growing food. Take the lining out of a diaper and put it in the bottom of your container pot. If they are out in hot weather, the hydro gel will hold nine cups of water making it accessible for the roots all summer long while you’re away.”

Choose plants with grey leaves.
“Silvery grey foliage is a sign of a plant that’s more tolerant of hot weather. They’re called xerophytes. They can handle hot sunny locations significantly better than the big, leafy green plants, and need significantly less water. So they can live without watering while you are away.”

Grey leaves edit

Blend your grass seeds:
“We know that grass is going to get really hammered by the heat this summer. Blend your grass with different types of seeds. Add fescue and ryegrass to your current lawn. Mix a 2 kg bag of mixed seeds with an 18 kg bag of soil in a wheelbarrow. Spread it on your lawn and water it. Kentucky bluegrass, which is what 95% of Canadian lawns are made of, goes dormant when it’s hot outside. But ryegrass and fescue don’t do that. They have a different threshold for heat so they will stay greener longer into the season.”

For vegetables

Use less water on your tomatoes.
“People always think that watering your vegetables is a good thing but fruit bearing vegetables like tomatoes actually do better with a bit less water. They want to struggle a little bit. They will produce more sugars and the fruit will be significantly juicier. The more you water it, the less flavour you have in the plant.”

Tomatoes edit

For bringing in the bees

Buy blue, yellow, and white flowers.
“Everybody is paying attention to bees this year. What most people don’t realize is that bees don’t actually see reds, oranges and pinks. They prefer flowers that are blues, purples, whites and yellows. So if you’re thinking about planting flowers for bees, go for blues and yellows.”

Flower bees edit

For greener grass

Take the bag off the lawnmower.
“Let the clippings build up on the lawn. Everybody is worried about thatch, which is when the grass clippings build up, but in hot dry conditions like we’re about to have, a thatch buildup protects the root system underneath. Let the thatch build up and cut your grass at 3 – 3 ½ inches in height. If it’s longer, shaggier, it will be healthier and it’s going to survive the summer.”Mowing the grass

To get rid of weeds

Use newspaper mulch.
“Put seven layers of newspaper around the plant and bury the newspaper in mulch. Weeds need three things to survive: soil, water, and sunlight. They’re already in the soil and you can’t waterproof your garden but if you can prevent the weeds from getting sunlight they’ll die off. The newspaper will effectively smother the weeds beneath. It takes about two months to break down to natural conditions but after that time you can start planting again without any weeds in the yard.”

Bonus tip: be wary of what you see on social media
“A lot pf people have been talking about using Epsom salts in the garden because they’re magnesium based. And while magnesium is very important for plants to develop healthy cell walls, you can do a lot of damage if you’re not careful. I know you see all these gardening techniques on social media but please be very cautious about adding chemicals or agents to your yard. I prefer to tell people to stay away from that one.”

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