Summer is a season to relax and enjoy the warm weather. Basking in the summer sun is a great way to relax, but only when the temperatures are safe. Summer heatwaves can compromise the health of human beings as well as their pets. Gardening enthusiasts also may need to go the extra mile to keep their plants and gardens from wilting under harsh summer sun.

Extreme heat stress can be very harmful to plants. The online gardening resource Gardening Know How notes that some plants can withstand summer heatwaves better than others. For example, succulents conserve water in their leaves, helping them to withstand heat waves when the dog days of summer arrive. But, succulents are unique, and many plants will require a little extra help to fight a heatwave.

Gardeners need not wait until the heat arrives to protect their plants from searing summer heat.

• Take a proactive approach with mulch. The sustainable living experts at Eartheasy recommend utilizing light-coloured mulch during heat waves. Such mulch will reflect the sunlight and help to maintain cooler surface soil conditions. Eartheasy even notes that grass clippings, once they’ve turned from green to light brown, can make for the perfect mulch to protect plants from the heat. Clippings also are free, making them a cost-effective solution.

• Water wisely. Water only helps plants withstand heatwaves if it’s applied effectively. If water is only applied in short bursts and not long enough to penetrate to the root zone, roots will stay near the surface. In such instances, roots will dry out during a heatwave, and plants won’t make it through the season. Timing also is essential when watering. Eartheasy recommends watering in the morning to avoid heat scald and also ensure as little water is lost to evaporation as possible. When watering during a heatwave, do so by hand rather than through a sprinkler. Hand watering allows gardeners to direct all of the water onto the plants that need it most during a heatwave.

• Let your plants pitch in. When planting new plants, gardeners must recognize it takes time for these plants to establish their roots, so they’re strong enough to withstand heatwaves. In the meantime, strategic planting can help them make it through their first heatwaves unscathed. Eartheasy notes that planting taller, more established plants can provide new plants with shade that can help them survive heatwaves. Just make sure new plants can still get the sun they need to thrive.