Welcome to your one-stop resource for gardening in July. If you always feel like you don’t have enough time for gardening, or just need some guidance on what to focus on each month, this is the series for you!
You can check out my garden jobs for every other month in this post.
Gardening in July
The ‘little and often’ approach to gardening that I talked about last month is definitely still a good way to go in July. Plants – and weeds! – are still growing fast, and if you’re growing your own fruit and veg you’ve probably started harvesting some crops by now as well. Keep plugging away at your garden maintenance every few days, and you’ll avoid having a big chore to tackle further down the line.
Here are some ideal jobs to tackle if you’re gardening in July.
Feed container plants
Plants grown in containers will quickly exhaust the nutrients in their compost at this time of year, so it’s a good idea to give them a boost by feeding them.
A general purpose plant food designed for flowers and shrubs is a good option for most container plants. You can buy these in *granule and *liquid form. Granular plant food is sprinkled around the base of the plant, then raked into the soil and watered to help release the nutrients. Liquid plant food is usually sold as a concentrate, so you need to dilute it in a watering can before you use it.
You can also make your own natural plant feed from comfrey or nettle leaves.
Keep an eye on plant pests
Gardening in July can sometimes feel like it’s all about vigilance, because plant pests such as slugs, snails, greenfly and blackfly can wreak havoc on your plants very quickly in summer. Make sure you check your plants regularly this month. Acting quickly if you see signs of damage or infestation will limit the problem.
Your biggest weapon in the battle against plant pests is the insects that feed on the pests. Ladybirds, ants, lacewings and spiders will all keep aphids (greenfly and blackfly) under control, and ground beetles will help deal with caterpillars and slugs. Encourage these beneficial insects to take up residence in your garden by providing a natural habitat such as a log pile or bug hotel.
You can also use a garden hose to blast critters off your plants. Use the nozzle on a jet-type setting to get the best result.
If you’d prefer to use a pesticide spray to deal with greenfly and blackfly, choosing an *organic certified product will limit the chemicals you introduce to the garden. And remember, pesticide sprays will usually kill all the beneficial insects too, so they’re not an ideal solution.
You can help prevent larger pests such as slugs and snails reaching your plants by creating physical barriers. Sprinkling crushed eggshells at the base of plants and applying *copper tape around plant pot rims are both good options. If you decide to use slug pellets, go for *metaldehyde-free ones which have less impact on wildlife and the environment.
Continue to deadhead flowering plants
We talked about deadheading last month, but it’s a job that goes on right through summer. Removing flowers that are drooping, dead or forming seed heads encourages plants to produce more flowers, so it’s well worth a few minutes of effort every few days.
To deadhead your plants, simply pinch or snip off the old flower heads. You can use your fingers, but I find that *snips make the job much quicker.
It’s also a good idea to deadhead any herbs that are flowering. You want the plant to focus it’s energy on leaves, not flowers, so snip any blooms off as soon as you see them.
Check plant supports
Ideally you should get your *plant supports in place before the plants grow big enough to need them, but if you haven’t managed to do this it’s not too late. You can use canes and string, or metal hoops to provide them with support. As well as preventing stem damage, this will make the garden look neater.
Hollyhocks, delphiniums, foxgloves and lavatera (mallow) are all good candidates for summer supports, as they are naturally tall plants which put on lots of growth at this time of year.
Don’t forget your edible plants when it comes to supports too. Tomatoes, runner beans, peas, peppers and cucumbers all need a bit of help as they grow.
Give houseplants an outdoor holiday
If your houseplants are looking a little tired, you can try bringing them outdoors for a holiday. The mild temperatures of summer are suitable for most indoor plants, and a few days outdoors will allow them to benefit from rainwater and good natural light. Choose a sheltered spot for your houseplants, and keep an eye on moisture levels – if it’s really warm you will need to water them regularly.
When you bring your plants back indoors, check them for pests first. This is a good time to give them a tidy up too; aim to remove any dead or damaged leaves and old flowers, and wipe large-leaved varieties with a damp cloth to remove any dust.
Deal with weeds
Staying on top of weeds is another garden job that goes on all through summer. Weeding little and often makes the job easier, and stops weeds becoming too established.
Another good way to keep weeds at bay is to fill up your borders with plants. Weeds will struggle to thrive when they’re competing with other plants for light, water and nutrients. Add more plants to bare patches of soil, and you’ll crowd out the weeds with minimum effort. This weed control method also gives you a great excuse to buy some lovely new plants!
The way you water your plants can have a big impact on the amount of water they actually receive. Don’t water little and often; this encourages plants to make roots near the surface, which makes them more vulnerable to drying out. Instead, water the soil around plants thoroughly, so the water can really soak in and drench the roots.
Plants growing in containers are particularly prone to drying out in summer, so keep a close eye on your pots and hanging flower baskets.
For more tips on effective garden watering in summer, check out this post.
Apart from regular mowing, summer is quite a low-maintenance time for lawns. In very dry weather it’s a good idea to raise the blades on your lawnmower to reduce stress on parched grass.
You can also apply *lawn feed to give your grass a boost. Be careful with this though, as in dry weather feed that is left sitting on the surface can scorch the grass. Make sure you water the feed in thoroughly if it doesn’t rain within a couple of days of application.
Low-growing perennial plants such as geraniums have probably passed their best display by now, and cutting them back this month will encourage them to produce new growth and more flowers.
Now is also a good time to prune any shrubs that flower on the previous year’s growth. Philadelphus, Forsythia and Weigela are popular examples. Make sure they’ve finished flowering first.
Rambling roses have usually finished flowering by now. Pruning will keep them tidy, and stop the plant only producing flowers high up on new growth. Aim to remove any damaged or dead stems, plus about a third of the oldest stems. New shoots can also be trimmed back and tied in to improve the shape of the plant. This video shows you how to do it:
July is an ideal time to cut back the twining shoots on climbing plants such as honeysuckle, wisteria and jasmine. This will neaten up the plant, and also encourage more flowering branches. Use *secateurs to cut back trailing stems, leaving around five leaves on the current season’s growth.
Evergreen hedges such as box, privet and yew can also be lightly trimmed this month to keep them looking smart.
What to plant in July
We’re into the height of summer now, but there are still lots of flowers, vegetables and bulbs you can plant this month that will give your garden a boost, or prepare it for the later months of the year. For a full list of options head over to my post on what to plant in July, or check out my list of drought tolerant plants.
What jobs are you tackling in the garden this month?
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