July Gardening Jobsi
Garden Jobs in July: How to Keep Your Garden Thriving in Summer
Summer is in full swing, and the garden is peaking. Your earlier efforts are paying off and now it is time to sit back in the sunshine to enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Don’t relax for too long though… there are still plenty of gardening jobs for July! Weeding, deadheading, and tying in will help plants look their best, as will being on the lookout for one or two pesky problems. Sustainability is key when it comes to watering and mowing, and, already looking ahead, now is the time to propagate certain plants as well as get autumn-flowering bulbs in the ground. Don’t forget to nurture precious garden wildlife through the warmer, drier months, oh – and the compost heap is calling too! Whoever said gardening was a leisurely pursuit?!
- Trees, hedges, and shrubs
- Garden maintenance
- Pests and diseases?
Top garden jobs to do in July
Trees, hedges, and shrubs
Newly planted trees, hedges, and shrubs
So you’ve done the water-wise thing and gone for a woody plant (known to be less hungry, thirsty, and generally time-consuming than most herbaceous alternatives). You’ve spent time researching and choosing the best fit for your garden and then lovingly planted, watered, and mulched it one day during the cooler or dormant months. From there on, the British climate took over watering duties, and, with little further input from you, your plant whooshed into life with plenty of lush, healthy new growth.
Job done! Or is it…? Even the most drought-tolerant of woody plants still need help getting through the hottest and driest of the summer weather until their roots have extended far and wide into the ground. This generally takes at least a year, and so The Hedgers always recommend giving woody plants a fortnightly soaking during their first summer in the garden.
Mature trees, hedges, and shrubs
If grown well (and by this we mean given the conditions they prefer, along with a generous annual mulch), mature woody plants are generally self-sufficient when it comes to watering, tending not to require any extra help.
Having said this, extreme heat and drought (which we are seeing more of in the UK) can cause even these members of the garden to show signs of water stress. Particularly at risk are those with larger leaves or restricted root growth, such as when planted next to a wall. Give these a good, long soaking – ideally early morning or in the evening – during particularly pronounced heatwaves.
Learn more with our guide to caring for your garden during a heatwave.
Environmentally responsible watering
While watering can be an essential part of keeping your trees, shrubs, and hedges alive and well, it is important to do this in the most sustainable way possible. We recommend you:
- Harvest rainwater using a water butt attached to the down pipe of your house or shed.
- Use a slow and steady trickle, which will penetrate the soil more efficiently than a strong hose blast and consequently use less water. This can be achieved either through leaving a hose on ‘low’ for several hours or using a leaky hose irrigation system.
Read our How to Water Plants guide for more tips.
- Propagate climbers and shrubs
July is an ideal time to take summer cuttings of evergreen shrubs and climbers. This is a wonderfully easy and effective way of creating more of the plants you love.
Deciduous climbers and shrubs are more suited to hardwood cuttings, which are taken in autumn and early winter.
- Tie-in climbers and ramblers
Anything intended to grow vertically against a support (and this includes climbers, ramblers, trained fruit, and immature wall shrubs) will benefit from having its supple, young growth tied in regularly at this time of year.
We recommend using a biodegradable garden twine, knotted first around the support and then loosely around the stem.
- Plant flower bulbs
When it comes to bulbs, it really boils down to one simple rule - to plant during dormancy. This will vary depending on the flowering time:
- Spring-flowering bulbs are dormant in autumn.
- Summer-flowering bulbs are dormant in spring.
- Autumn-flowering bulbs are dormant in summer.
July is therefore an ideal moment to plant autumn-flowering bulbs such as:
Often sugary-pink in colour with delicate, wavy-edged petals.
Love a sun-baked spot at the base of a sunny wall.
Goblet-shaped flowers, usually in shades of purple, pink or white.
Enjoy a sunny spot where the soil dries out in summer.
Crocus-like flowers in bright, golden yellow.
Prefer light, chalky soils and a dry summer dormancy.
Small pink, white, or purple flowers appear after the first rains of late summer.
Enjoy sun or light shade and a humus-rich soil.
Resemble super-sized crocus flowers, in pink, white, and purple.
Prefer a deep, fertile soil and full sun.
In addition to this, many garden centres offer pot-grown summer-flowering bulbs and tubers for gardeners seeking an instant hit. In July you are likely to see favourites such as allium and dahlia sold in this way. They are likely to need a little more TLC (i.e., watering and mulching) during their first summer than those planted during dormancy.
- Sow flower seeds
July is the last chance to sow biennials (plants which grow leaves in their first year, then flower and die in the second year). These are traditionally sown in early to midsummer for flowering next year.
Biennial seeds to be sown now include:
July can be a busy month in the garden for deadheading. For many flowering plants, this removal of spent flowers before they set seed will trigger the production of further blooms. It is both a lovely task and an effective way of boosting colour in the garden.
Popular July-flowering plants which respond well to deadheading include:
- Sweet pea
- Turn your compost to aerate it
While it is not essential to turn your compost heap, provided it contains a mix of woody and green material, doing so can significantly increase the rate of decomposition.
At this time of year when compost heaps are likely to be groaning with the results of the spring cut back, first hedge trimming, and constant deadheading, a helping hand to speed things up can be much needed.
If you have multiple compost bays, use a garden fork to move all material from the full bay to an empty alternative. For those with just the one heap, lay a large sheet of tarpaulin on the ground to allow you to move material out and back in again.
- Top up bird baths regularly
In the summer months, small birds can find it a challenge to locate water for drinking and bathing, particularly in built up areas. Bathing is an essential part of their feather maintenance. If you have a bird bath, it is therefore vital that you keep it topped up at this time of year.
Read our How to Make a Wildlife-Friendly Garden post for more tips.
- Encourage bees to visit
You’ve planted your diverse, pollen-rich plants – carefully chosen to ensure there is something in bloom every month of the year. Included are native species and flowering hedges, with clover and dandelion allowed to flourish in your lawn. Pesticides are a thing of the past in your garden.
Brilliant! You’re a bee-friendly gardener! But did you know there are extra measures you can be taking right now to help your local bee population?
Leaving small piles of woody prunings in borders and at the base of hedges can provide the perfect habitat for bees looking for a place to colonise. Also, placing a few stones at the edge of a pond or bird bath will allow bees safe access to the water they need to keep nests cool in the summer heat.
- Mow the lawn but raise the cutting height
Grass sends its roots further down into the ground when left to grow longer, making it more drought tolerant and less likely to turn brown during heatwaves.
Read our How to Keep your Lawn Looking Perfect guide for more information.
- Hoe and remove weeds
Your lovingly cultivated plants are not the only ones romping away at this high point in the growing season; we’d bet good money your weeds are flourishing as well. Weeding is one of the main tasks for gardeners at this time of year, whether that be regularly hoeing off annuals such as chickweed and hairy bittercress, or digging out perennials such as bindweed and ground elder.
Hopefully, like us, you enjoy the opportunity to get up close and personal with the garden while keeping things looking ‘ship shape’. If, however, things have got a little out of hand, you may wish to consider our weed suppressing mats and membranes.
Pests and diseases
The Hedgers encourage a natural approach to slug control, by which we mean creating a healthy, balanced garden ecosystem containing natural predators such as hedgehogs, birds, and toads.
If necessary, a torchlit, night-time inspection of particularly affected plants will allow you to remove offending molluscs by hand.
Most plants are at their most vulnerable to slug damage when young and soft, tending to become less affected as they become established.
Read our 11 Popular Garden Pests and Diseases Found in Hedging Plants for tips on dealing with a range of other hungry critters.
- Rose and tree suckers
Most roses and some trees are grafted onto the rootstock of a different species, sometimes to increase vigour and disease resistance, sometimes to have a dwarfing effect. These rootstocks will occasionally attempt to ‘cut out the middleman’ by sending out their own top growth, known as suckers.
Remove regularly to avoid precious energy being diverted from the main plant, snipping off as close to the roots as you can.
- Apple scab
At this time of year, you may become aware of dark blotches appearing on the leaves of your apple tree. This is likely to be an airborne fungal disease called apple scab, which we’re sorry to say will probably also affect your fruits later in the year. Thankfully, light attacks are merely aesthetic and should not affect eating quality, though in some cases the scabs can cause cracking which means fruit will not store well.
We recommend monitoring the situation, and if it becomes too much of a problem, you may wish to replace your tree with one of the many resistant varieties available.
- Powdery mildew
Powdery mildew is a fungal disease which causes white, powdery patches to cover leaves, flowers, and fruit. It tends to occur where plants have been given insufficient sunlight or airflow, as well as exposure to drought stress.
At this time of year, the best thing you can do is to remove affected parts of the plant, keep it regularly watered, mulch with well-rotted organic matter, and improve airflow in any way possible. This may involve a light pruning of the plant and its neighbours, as well as clearing away surrounding weeds or debris.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our gardening tips for July. Want to get ahead on your to do list? Find out what you can do in your garden in August here.
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