How to Protect Your Plants From Sunburn - Backyard Boss
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How to Protect Your Plants From Sunburn

Sunshine is a key part of a great summer. Sunny days at the beach or spent by the pool are seasonal favorites, but too much sun has consequences. Most everyone is familiar with the dreaded sunburn, but people aren’t the only ones who can suffer from the damaging effects of too much sun. Plants can also get sunburnt, and it is essential to take some simple steps to protect them.

Building your own sun shade, white-washing your trees, or increasing humidity in your garden are cheap and easy ways to shield your plants from the sun. You will need to decide which solution is the most appropriate for your garden to ensure your plants have the protection they need. Keep reading for a list of methods and materials to safeguard your plants from sunburn.

To Protect Your Plants You Will Need

1. Sun Shade

Sunshade over garden box
Image credits: London Permaculture via Openverse

A sun shade provides a physical barrier for your plants, keeping them out of direct sunlight. Although very effective, it can be a time and material-intensive option. This is a great solution to protect a single garden box or a bed of flowers. It’s not a viable option if you have a vast area that needs protection, or very large plants, like trees. Here’s what you’ll need:

    • Sturdy metal garden stakes, approx. 5 ft long
    • Plastic zip ties
    • Masking tape
    • Old sheet or other fabric
    • Scissors
    • Sledgehammer

2. White-Wash Trees

Trees with whitewash on trunks
Image credits: brionv via Openverse

If you are primarily concerned about large trees on your property receiving too much sun and heat, then a bit of white paint is an easy way to protect them. This solution works well for large, leafy trees with a lot of exposed bark. The best part? You don’t need many materials.

      • White non-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) latex interior paint
      • Paintbrush

3. Increase Humidity

Straw mulch in garden
Image credits: mmmavocado via openverse

Even though people might feel hotter when the humidity increases, it can make intense heat much more bearable for plants. Although this solution addresses high heat damage more than direct sunburn damage, the two conditions are closely linked. Here’s what you’ll need:

      • Mulch material
      • Trowel
      • Watering can
      • Rake

How to Protect Your Plants

      1. Sun Shade

Just by using materials around your house, you can create a small sunshade that will protect your plants from sunburn while still allowing some sunlight and water to get through.

      • First, choose a piece of fabric that is lightweight and large enough to cover your garden area. Old bed sheets, T-shirts, or landscaping fabric will allow some light through but still protect your plants from sunburn.
      • Use scissors to cut the fabric into the right size and shape to cover your plants. A triangle, square, or rectangle shape will work best. Cut small holes in the material to allow rain and wind to pass through.
      • Based on the size and shape of your fabric, choose the best places to put your stakes so that each corner or point of the material is supported. The stakes should be hammered at least 1/4 of their length into the ground.
      • Attach your fabric to the stakes using the zip ties. You can use masking tape to hold the material in place before securing it tightly with the zip ties. Make sure the fabric is pulled tight enough that it does not droop down and touch your plants. You want to allow air to flow underneath to keep your plants cool.

2. White-Wash Trees

Can of white paint with brush
Image credits: henry_perks via Unsplash

This is the best option for you if your yard has large trees that are showing signs of sun damage. It is essential to use non-VOC paint as it does not contain harmful chemicals that can damage your trees.

      • Mix a solution of 50/50 water and non-VOC interior latex paint.
      • Use a paintbrush to coat the sun-exposed portion of your tree trunks.


3. Increase Humidity

Watering can watering outdoor plants
Image credits: annawaldl via Pixabay

This solution is a great way to protect your garden in a heat wave. Increasing humidity will help your plants be less vulnerable when temperatures and sun exposure increase. Although this option doesn’t directly protect against sunburn, it reduces heat stress and ambient temperatures, which leaves plants less susceptible to sunburn. Adding mulch to a garden is a great way to retain soil moisture and increase humidity.

      • Before adding mulch to your garden bed, you will want to remove any weeds and trim branches away from the base of shrubs and trees.
      • Give the garden bed a thorough watering before laying down mulch.
      • Use a trowel to evenly distribute the mulch and ensure it is tucked neatly beneath your plants.

Keep Your Plants Cool

The summer sun can be fun, but it can also be harmful. Preparing your gardens and plants for extreme sun means finding the best ways to keep them safe. The options outlined in this article will protect your garden from sunburn without adding too much work for you. The designs are cheap, easy, and use materials around your house. As a bonus tip, if your plants are in containers, remember that you can simply move them to a shadier spot.

Find the best option from these solutions based on the type of plants you are growing and the type of protection they need most. Your plants will thank you on the next hot and sunny day!