It's human nature--we wait all winter for the weather to warm up, then we look for ways to cool down in the heat of summer. Here are a few "cool" ideas to make your garden a welcome oasis on hot summer days.
Planting for Shade
Have you have ever stepped under the canopy of a tree from the heat of the sun? Then you know the immediate cooling effect of natural shade. If you are fortunate enough to have a tree shading your garden, set up a table and chairs or a lounger under it—maybe even a hammock-- and enjoy the cool.
If you decide to plant a shade tree choose a variety that is fast growing yet strong. A northern red oak, zelkova, or tulip tree will be tall enough to sit under in five or six years.
While you're waiting you can use annuals to make shade. To make a sunflower arbour plant seeds of tall-growing sunflowers in two rows. When they are taller than you bend them over and tie opposite ones together at the tops. You'll have a cool and colourful arbour to sit under.
Or grow a screen with morning glories, hops, sweet peas, or other vining plants. Place bamboo stakes in the ground and plant seeds or seedlings to grow up the stakes. In just a few weeks the plants will fill in and you can set your chair down on the shady side.
For generations children have been running under garden sprinklers to cool off. Decorative garden sprinklers take this idea to the next level, with rotating designs create fountain-like displays that cool and delight.
It's easier than you may think to add an actual fountain to your garden. With a source of water and a source of electricity you can install a soothing and cooling fountain in a style that complements your garden.
Building a small garden pond is a great weekend DIY project. Give some thought to the size and location of the pond before you start to dig.
There's nothing like an umbrella for creating shade where you want it, and now there are many different types to choose from. The classic market umbrella fits through a hole in the centre of an outdoor table into a weighted base. A cantilevered or offset umbrella casts a wide area of shade you can easily adjust as the sun moves through the sky.
Shades, awnings, and canopies attach to structures. Properly positioned they can a portion of the garden and the house. Shade sails are freestanding canopies you can set up anywhere; beautiful colours and graceful shapes make shade sails attractive additions to the garden.
Be sure to protect yourself from the heat while you are in the garden—whether you are tending your plants or just relaxing. Drink plenty of water and keep your body protected from the sun's rays.