Tips and advice on garden care in July
July is peak flowering time for most gardens, full of vibrant summer flowers. Containers and hanging baskets are blooming and in full swing, and some of 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. It’s time to preen your plants by making sure they are regularly deadheaded and well watered.
Deadheading keeps your plants looking fresh and vibrant, and regularly watering your plants helps to keep them looking good during the heat of summer.
So here to help is your monthly gardening checklist and jobs for the month.
July focus: Preparing the garden for 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 – cut the grass and weed your flowerbeds. Deadhead bedding plants, perennials and roses, pick fruit and veg and feed greenhouse plants.
Water everything well before you go (check out our watering and hoses range), and if you can, get someone to come and water for you while you’re away, and if you can’t get anyone in, set up an automatic watering system.
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.
Deadheading spent flowers encourages further blooms. Not only will the plant look fresh and tidier, but it will also trick the plant into channeling its energy away from seed production and into forming additional flowers instead. Depending on the type of plant you are deadheading, either use a sharp pair of secateurs or use your finger to pinch out the spent flower heads. Cut just above the first set of healthy leaves, below the spent flower.
If there are a lot of tiny flowers, wait for the majority of flowers to fade and then shear the entire plant back by about one-third. You’ll lose a few flowers this way, but they’ll soon reward you with another set of blooms to enjoy and possibly trim back again later in the summer.
General garden tasks
- Continue to feed your plants. Particularity your fruit and vegetable garden
- Keep an eye on the weather, and water your garden in the evening. Smaller pots, baskets and planter may need watering twice daily. Water the soil, not the plants
- Tidy beds and borders. Deadheading flowering plants including roses and bedding plants will encourage and prolong flowering
- Cut back hanging baskets and planters. This will keep them looking fresh with new flowers and foliage
- Train and secure your climbers with plant ties as they will be fast growing and need support
- Keep your lawn looking good, feed to encourage new growth if you did not give your lawn a spring feed. Control weeds using appropriate weed killer
- Raise the cutting height of the lawn mower blades during hot, dry spells when the grass is under stress to keep it green without watering
- Avoid watering the lawn, except a new lawn in prolonged dry spells
- Every time you mow, finish the job by trimming the edges of the lawn with a grass trimmer or edging shears
- Keep on top of ventilating, watering and feeding
- Water and feed greenhouse plants more often now the weather is hotter and the container is filling with roots
- Pick summer greenhouse crops regularly
Hedging and climbing plants
- Clip privet and other fast-growing hedges
- 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 (also known as leylandii), it could well be the third time you’ve reached for the hedge trimmer
- Prune wisteria with secateurs. Cut back side shoots to shape for the following year
Patios and containers
- Feed and deadhead container plants regularly
- Water daily and, for some smaller containers, consider watering twice a day
Vegetables and herbs
- Feed with some organic fertiliser and sow main-crop carrots, early peas, turnips, lettuce, radishes, spinach and spring cabbages
- Keep vegetables well watered in dry spells
- Harvest vegetables as soon as they are ready, although root crops can stay in the ground until you are ready to use them
- Cut and dry or freeze herbs
- Regularly pick courgettes before they become marrows
- If you’ve got 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 plants 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, do this at the end of July, but if you live in the south of the UK you can leave it as late as mid-August
- Tidy strawberry beds and grow on new strawberry plants by pegging down the strawberry runners into pots to root and create new plants
- Harvest raspberries, blackcurrants and gooseberries
- Thin out fruit
Nature and wildlife
- Top up bird baths regularly with fresh water, and don’t forget to give them a clean too
- Keep bird feeders topped up as competition for bird food increases with so many fledglings on the scene
- Froglets and toadlets (young frogs and toads) will start to make an appearance this month. Plant foliage around your pond to provide shelter from predators
- Ensure your fences have some gaps at the bottom to allow frogs and hedgehogs move from garden to garden