July's gardening checklist
July is peak flowering time for most gardens, full of vibrant summer flowers. Containers and hanging baskets are blooming and in full swing, and your home-grown fruits and vegetables are ready for the table.
As we move into hotter weather, it's important not to forget all those little maintenance jobs that help your garden stay at its best, as well as start thinking about preparing for the end of the season.
So here to help is your monthly gardening checklist.
Tools & materials required
July's monthly checklist
Tools you might need:
- Grass trimmer or garden edging shears
- Hedge trimmer or hedge shears
- Garden fork
- Hose or watering can
Care for potted plants
Patio and container plants look stunning this month and to keep them that way it's time to step up the watering, weeding, deadheading and feeding.
The containers will be packed full of roots, so the plants need lots more water than they did back in June - especially if the weather’s really hot and dry. Water daily and, for some smaller containers, consider watering twice a day.
Feed weekly, as the nutrients in the potting compost will have been used up by now. We recommend a liquid feed high in sulphate of potash as this encourages flowering. Use as much as it takes to thoroughly dampen the compost throughout the container.
Keep your displays looking fresh and vibrant with regular deadheading. We advise doing this little and often, going over the plants every day or two. For plants with short stems just nip off the flower head, and for ones with long stems remove the entire stem so plants don’t end up looking like a lot of spikes.
For advice on which pruning tools to use, check out our buyer's guide.
Stay on top of your lawn care
If the weather hots up in July, it can be tempting to reach for the sprinkler to keep your lawn looking good. Conserve water without losing the greenery by resisting the urge to cut your grass too short. Simply raise the blade of your mower up 1 centimetre (cm) and you’ll quickly see the difference.
It’s important not to stop cutting the grass entirely as it can quickly look scruffy and some grasses will run to seed. Additionally weeds will run riot as they can keep growing long after the grass stops, so try to cut at least every couple of weeks.
Every time you mow, finish the job by trimming the edges of the lawn with a grass trimmer or edging shears. You may also want to feed it with lawn feed to keep it healthy.
For more tips on caring for your lawn, head to our how to guide.
Trim your hedges
July is the time to get the hedge trimming tools out again. If your hedges are yew or laurel, this may be the first and only time you trim them this year, whereas if you have Leyland cypress hedging, it could well be the third time.
Large-leaved hedges such as laurel can look a bit untidy if trimmed with a hedge trimmer or hedge shears – instead opt for secateurs. They're more time-consuming to use, but produce a much neater finish. If using a hedge trimmer, work from the top of the hedge downwards, so gravity and the action of the trimmer are working with you. Hold the trimmer well away from your body, but no higher than your shoulders.
For more advice on staying safe when trimming, read the section "How to trim a hedge" in our how to article.
And for help on choosing the right hedge trimmer for you, head to our buyer's guide.
Continue harvesting your vegetables
If you're growing your own vegetables, continue to harvest them as soon as they're ready - although root crops can stay in the ground until you fancy using them.
Sprinkle in some organic fertiliser and sow:
Water well in dry periods as stop-go growth is guaranteed to make your vegetables tough and tasteless or cause them to run to seed.
If you’re growing tomatoes, use your finger and thumb to nip out the very tip of the plant. This stops the stems growing any longer and diverts the plant's energy to swelling and ripening the fruit so you don’t end up with lots of green tomatoes at the end of the season. If you live in the north of the country do this at the end of July, but if you live south you can leave it as late as mid-August.
For more on growing and caring for tomatoes, check out our how to guide.
Prepare your garden before your summer holidays
Don’t let all your hard work go to waste if you’re going away on holiday for a couple of weeks - especially if it’s forecast to be hot and dry while you’re away. Prepare the garden before you go by cutting the grass and weeding your flowerbeds.
Deadhead bedding plants, perennials and roses, pick fruit and vegetables and feed greenhouse plants. Water everything well before you go, and if you can, arrange for a friend or family member to water for you while you’re away. Alternatively, set up an automatic watering system (also known as an irrigation kit).
If you aren’t able to do either of those things, move any pots and containers to a cool, shady spot, stand them in saucers and give them a long drink before you go.