July is a key month in any gardening calendar (to relax that is).
As it’s the height of summer, make the most of your hard work by taking the time to sit outside and enjoy your garden. Of course, we know it’s hard to switch off completely when it comes to gardening, so while you’re out there, here’s a couple of things you can do to keep your plants and flowers looking vibrant all summer long:
- Water your plants
There’s less rain at this time of year (although it may not seem like it) so it’s up to you to make sure your plants don’t go thirsty. Regular watering or spraying is essential for growth, so never let the soil dry out. Get in the habit of giving your garden a good soaking twice a week, with recycled water when possible. This encourages your plant’s roots to grow downwards in search of water, instead of coming up to the surface.
Aim to water either in the early morning or late afternoon; the mid-day sun won’t leave much behind for the plants. Plus, water droplets on your lawn and flowers can act as a magnifying glass to the sun’s rays.
- Secateurs at the ready
Keep an eagle eye out for flowers that are not doing so well. Dead-heading your perennial plants will encourage more flowers to follow in their place and it will keep your beds looking gorgeous. Faded plants, or overblown flowers, should also be cut back as soon as possible.
If you have fruit trees, try to remove any damaged or poor quality fruit so there is at least a 5cm gap between each fruit. These trees often produce more than they can support, so give them a helping hand by removing the lesser fruit and any excessive growth.
- Show those weeds who’s boss
Your plants won’t be the only things growing this July. Weeds are a gardener’s worst enemy this time of year. Clear one patch and the next day they’re back again. But don’t give up. Keep your hoe handy for the moment you spot an unwelcome intruder in your flower bed.
If you have Bindweed or Ground Elder in your garden, then sadly it’s nigh on impossible to get rid of it forever. However don’t despair, it can be controlled. Unwrap the Bindweed from plants by hand, then use a fork to dig up the roots.
Ground Elder grows in patches so it’s slightly easier to see. However, make sure when you dig it up that you get every last little bit as anything left behind will grow into a new plant. It’s a fiddly, slightly maddening task, but essential for the health of your garden. And, if you need a little extra help there’s always chemicals.
- Tie-up your plants
Whatever you do, don’t wait to support and tie-up tall growing plants. An unexpected downpour could easily flatten them (this is the UK after all). Climbing plants such as clematis and climbing roses often need a little encouragement to grow up their supports. Try loosely tying them in place with soft strings so as to not hurt their delicate stems.
- Start the harvest
Enjoy the fruits of your labour – and the vegetables too. July is the time when your garden will start to give back to you. Strawberries, tomatoes, courgettes, radishes and more… they’re all waiting to be picked and eaten. Chances are your garden will inundate you with one particular produce over another, so why not get inventive with your cooking and try a new pickle, chutney or jam recipe?
- Tend to your roses
July is the time when your roses will be at their peak. Keep them flowering as long as possible by dead-heading all faded blooms. When doing so, ensure you cut back the stem to two or three leaves below the faded flower, as this will allow for new shoots to grow. Producing seeds at this rate is pretty exhausting for your plant, so why not treat them to some special rose fertiliser to help them re-gain their strength?
- Sort out your Greenhouse
First thing to do in the green house this month, if you haven’t already done so, is to do a bit of cleaning as pests and diseases can grow at an alarming rate. Open the windows to let the air in and try to clean as many surfaces as you can. While doing so, keep a particular lookout for Greenhouse White Fly – a small white insect about 2mm long. They deposit a sticky dew on the underside of leaves which causes them to go mouldy. If you see them, get rid of them as soon as possible.
- Top-up your pond
The warm weather will have a direct effect on your pond’s water level. Keep an eye out and top it up when necessary, using rain water from a water butt if possible. Tap water contains chemicals that can affect the balance of nutrients in the water.
Plant-wise, keep an eye out for any yellowing lily pads, before they break off and turn to mulch in the water. Also, use a rake to lift out any floating blanket weed. Pile it next to your pond for a day before composting, in order to let any creatures find their way back to the water.
- Give your lawn a treat
July is your last chance to feed your lawn with a high-nitrogen fertiliser in order to get the rich green colour that will make your neighbours jealous. Feeding your lawn after this time will encourage too much new growth which won’t harden off in time for the winter.
- Relax. You’ve earned it.
You really have. Grab a cool drink and a good book and bask in the glory of your hard work. Make the most of the time now because you know it all starts again soon.
I hope these 10 tips were useful to you and I encourage you to add a comment in the section below if you know some “July practices” that I missed. Every month I post an article covering the activities that a good gardener must carry out in his garden. Don’t miss any useful technique in the next article by subscribing to the email newsletter. I will deliver them directly to you inbox!
You may also be interested in one of these 4 articles: