Garden Tips For July
As the weather heats up borders and containers should be looking their best with plenty of variety and colour. To keep perennials and annuals looking their best and flowering for as long as possible it is important to deadhead faded blooms. During long dry spells only water borders if they really need it and it is better to give plants a good soaking once a week than to water a little each day. Applying a thick mulch around plants will help to reduce moisture loss.
Once perennials have finished flowering cut back faded stems, some like hardy geraniums can be cut back to around two inches from the ground and they will reward you with a second flush of flowers later in the season. Whilst the border is in full bloom note any changes you would like to make, for instance, if a plant has become too large and will need dividing in autumn or if a plant is simply in the wrong place and will need to be moved and replaced with something more suitable. Plan ahead for late summer colour and plant perennials like Asters, Rudbeckia, Dahlia’s and Sedums and shrubs such as Caryopteris, Hibiscus and Hydrangea. For a more informal feel add some grasses especially Miscanthus varieties with their wonderful plumes which can be left over winter for birds to feed on.
Deadhead roses to prolong flowering by cutting faded flowers to a leaf bud further down the stem, this will encourage new shoots to form. Lavenders need to be cut back to around two inches above where the plant is green after flowering to prevent the plant becoming woody. Irises that have become too large for their space can be lifted and divided before replanting. Wisteria should be pruned by cutting back new growths made during the summer to within five or six buds of the main stem to encourage buds to form for next year.
All buxus (box) whether topiary or hedging should be pruned to shape in July but remember it is better to trim off too little that too much so trim lightly, stand back and trim a little more as needed to keep the shape of the plant you require.
Continue to mow and trim the edges of lawn, however during long dry spells of weather raise the blades and reduce frequency of mowing to help the lawn to cope with less water. Try to resist watering the lawn as it will soon recover once it starts to rain. Use weed killer to treat any weeds growing in paving as pulling weeds out can dislodge the mortar allowing more weeds to seed themselves in gaps. Containers will need to be fed every couple of weeks and watered daily unless it rains heavily, also remove any weeds that may compete for water and cut off any straggly bits of plants to keep containers tidy.
Harvesting vegetables and some herbs for drying. Pinch out the head of the leading shoot on runner beans once it reaches the top of the canes, this encourages side shoots lower down and results in a heavier crop. Plant out winter brassicas and sow spring cabbages. Continue to remove side shoots from leaf axils on tomatoes and pinch out the growing tip at the top of the plant once it has reached the height you require.
Ponds and water features should be topped up with water in dry weather and remove duckweed and blanket weed. Also regularly fill bird baths to ensure birds have a fresh water supply available.
Traditionally July and August are holiday time. Plan ahead if you are off on holiday to avoid returning to either a dried up garden or a jungle. If you can, book a friend or relative to water containers while you’re away. Leave any new planting until your return and group pots and containers together in the shade if possible to reduce moisture loss. Before you leave deadhead flowering perennials and annuals to help ensure a blooming garden on your return and mow the lawn as close as possible to your departure date.