We had a huge storm on the east coast last weekend followed by the hottest temperatures I have ever seen around here. Keeping cool and hydrated is a must if you plan to spend time outside in this intense heat. After just a couple of hours working to clean up storm damage, the heat got to me and I took a tumble. After both hurting my wrist and breaking a toe, I have learned my lesson the hard way. I am now very aware to drink water often and, preferably, in the shade.
Limit your time outside while triple digit temperatures are here. If you can, try to break up your chores into ten minute segments, and cool off indoors between times. I recommend moving all small pots and containers to locations where they are out of the direct sun until the heat subsides. I put mine under my deck. They tend to dry out quickly otherwise. Try to water all pots twice daily. Add ice cubes to the top of hanging baskets to cool the soil as the cubes melt.
Soaker hoses are worth their weight in gold in this weather. I like to use them in the evening, and they can really mean the difference in keeping newly planted trees and bushes alive. If you have an irrigation system, set it to run in the pre-dawn morning hours. This will give the plants and lawn a chance to dry off before the sun is out.
Don’t water anything while it’s in the full sun. It will quickly sunburn the leaves and kill the flowers. The water actually intensifies the sun’s rays like a magnifying glass. Beware of setting anything like a trash can lid or even a plastic trash bag on your lawn while you’re working. It takes only minutes for them to kill the grass.
If you are lucky enough to have a swimming pool or fish pond, check your water level daily. It’s amazing how quickly the water can evaporate on extremely hot days. If the water levels fall too low to recirculate, the pump can overheat and burn up. If you have a fish pond, be sure to shade it.
A great way to stay cool while gardening is to follow the shade around your house, and set up a sprinkler (my favorite!) to cool you down while working. When shade isn’t available, I set up my market umbrella. It can feel 10 to 20 degrees cooler under the umbrella than working in the full sun. Even a large brimmed hat can help to keep the rays off, so enjoy your summer!