Top gardening jobs for July
1. Liquid feed your plants (especially those in pots and containers). Border plants will enjoy a quick acting liquid feed before they bloom. Combined with cutting out fading blooms, dead heading etc you may be able to revive tired displays and prolong flowering; this is especially effective for pot plants and flower borders.
2. Water your plants early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid waste through evaporation and leaves being scorched on hot days. Use recycled water wherever possible.
3. Keep new plants well watered until they are established; they need far more water than you think.
4. Build a composting area for all your garden waste.
5. Regularly clear fallen leaves as this will help prevent plant diseases.
6. Cut lawns if they need a mow. But not too short at this will speed up moisture loss in the current dry weather.
7. Look out for pest problems once the weather warms up.
Mow regularly, except when the weather is very dry. You can prevent your lawn getting stressed in dry weather by cutting it higher than normal (this will help the lawn retain moisture).
- Any brown patches caused by heat and drought stress it will recover when the rain returns.
- If these patches contain small pink/red strands, then you may have a problem with red-thread in the lawn. Red-thread is a fungal disease and results when nitrogen is washed out of the soil. Look at implementing an all year round lawn care plan:
- Grass feeds on Nitrogen so apply a nitrogen-rich fertiliser and the damage should soon disappear.
- Warm summer weather can mean a heavy infestation of ants. Unsightly ant hills in your lawn can be removed by simply brushing them out on a dry day. Do this before mowing as the extra resistance of the ant hills could damage your mower!
- Dig out isolated weeds or spot-treat them with a paint-on weed killer.
Top Tip:The weather is likely to be hot for a while longer. Beware of Heat Street and Heat Stroke. Do you know the difference? Can you spot the symptoms of this killer condition?
More info: Identifying Heat Stress and Heat Stroke
Trees, shrubs and climbers
- Help climbers and ramblers wrap around their supports as they grow.
- Remove suckers growing from the base of trees.
- Prune deciduous magnolias if necessary.
- Prune June-flowering shrubs such as Philadelphus and Weigela after flowering.
- Prune for shape, to remove dead or overcrowded branches and to encourage new growth.
- Take cuttings from shrubs such as Choisya, Hydrangea and Philadelphus.
- Like Clematis? Make more by taking internodal cuttings - taking a section of stem sections above and below a leaf, rather than cutting the stem immediately below a leaf joint.
- Prop-up tall perennial plants to prevent wind damamge and losing what is often a short bloom anyway.
- Mulch borders to help retain moisture and keep down the weeds.
- Autumn-flowering bulbs, such as autumn crocuses, Colchicum, Sternbergia, Amaryllis and Nerine, can be planted now.
- Cut back delphiniums and geraniums after the first flush of flowers to encourage a second flowering period then feed them to support the new growth.
- Poppy's and love-in-a-mist (among others; typically wild varieties) will produce seeds that you can collect for planting later in the year.
- Divide clumps of iris.
- Keep digging out and treating weeds as required.
Greenhouse and houseplants
- Damp down greenhouses on hot days to increase humidity and stop it getting too hot.
- Any cuttings taken so far can be grown on in the greenhouse.
- Watch the water level of ponds and water features topping up as necessary.
- Aquatic plants can also benefit from feeding, dead heading and removing fading foliage to prolong their display and keep them healthy and looking tidy just like your flower bed. Cut back any pond plants that are getting out of hand.
- Think about pond hygiene; pull out blanket weed (leaving it at the side of the pond to allow beneficial insects to crawl back in).
- Paint wooden structures now while the weather is dry. Fence panels are expensive so remember to protect them with a preservative.
- Start / build a compost heap if not already done so.
- Fit a water butt ready for when it rains.
- Mulch borders to help retain moisture in dry weather.
(With thanks to The Gardeners Guild)