What to do in the garden in July
17th July 2014
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Water thoroughly once or twice a week rather than little and often - this encourages plants to put down roots in search of water rather than coming up to the surface. Remember, though, that containers and hanging baskets need watering every day and sometimes even twice a day if it is hot and windy.

For recently planted large shrubs or trees, leave a hose trickling around the base for an hour. The same goes for established plants in very dry periods - pay particular attention to camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas and hydrangeas which will abort next season’s flowers if they get too dry. Mulch around the roots when moist to help avoid this. Recently planted hedges are best watered with a trickle hose (a length of old hose punctured with little holes) left running for an hour or so.

Ensure trees or shrubs planted in the last couple of years on lawns or in areas of rough grass have a circle of clear earth around them - this must be kept clear or grass will prevent essential moisture getting through. Mulching with bark or compost will help.

Water is a precious commodity - instigate good practices such as using kitchen and bath water (as long as it is neither too dirty, greasy nor full of detergent) for watering, collect rainwater in butts (available from the centre) and investigate ways to recycle water for your irrigation. Avoid using tap water for lime-hating plants such as camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas - they will not thank you for it!

The key to successful planting, whether it be a shrub, tree, perennial or bedding plant is to water in well. Soak the rootball in a bucket until no air bubbles come to the surface, dig the planting hole, fill with water and allow to drain away. Place the plant in the hole, fill with soil, firm gently and water well with a watering can - this will give the plant a huge advantage over one planted with a dry rootball in a dry hole and watered only on the surface.

Hoe beds and borders to get rid of annual weeds, like bitter cress and chickweed. If it’s dry, attack perennial weeds like ground elder and the like with systemic weed killer painted onto the leaves and trail tips of bindweed into jam jars full of the same. Remember systemic weed killers are indiscriminate and will kill anything they contact. If you don’t have time to do this, at least cut the culprits down to prevent them from setting seed.

Keep your pond topped up with fresh water - a build up of algae in warm weather can be toxic, if not fatal, for animals.


Pests love warm weather, so be on your guard! Caterpillar and aphid infestations can be dealt with by hand if caught early enough, but should the situation career out of control you will have to resort to insecticides or grin and bear it! Greenfly and blackfly especially love the heat and don’t forget aphids and other sap-sucking insects can transmit viruses so don’t give in to the sympathy vote. Try to attract beneficial insects by growing a wide variety of plants - ladybirds and their larvae are consummate aphid predators, as are lacewings and even wasps.

Flowers and containers

Divide old clumps of bearded irises and replant.

The big chop – chop oriental poppies, lupins, delphiniums and geraniums right down to the ground once they have finished flowering - be brave and be brutal - the new leaves will be an ornament and some may flower again.

Support tall delphinium stems with individual canes.

Cheat and fill any gaps in your borders with container-grown perennials. Dahlias will keep colour going until the first frosts so are a great autumn brightener in mixed borders.

Pick sweet peas regularly - this is in effect early deadheading and will ensure continued flowering. Remember sweet peas are thirsty plants so keep them well watered.

Go for instant impact and colour in your garden or on your terrace with a ready planted container; or for a special occasion sink whole containers into your borders for a fabulous instant makeover!

Kitchen garden

Water regularly in dry weather and keep picking!

Keep greenhouses shaded on hot days to prevent their turning into furnaces. Spray the floor with water in the morning to create a humid atmosphere ideal for greenhouse plants. Do not do this at night as the humidity and lower temperatures can encourage pests and disease.


Keep all fruit well watered especially during dry spells; mulching with organic matter will help reduce water loss and keep down the weeds too.

Delicious home-grown strawberries should still be cropping - straw laid under the plants will keeps the fruit off the soil and helps prevent soil splash which can spread botrytis (grey mould). If you spot it, remove all infected fruits and remember not to put them on the compost; this will only spread the problem. Peg down runners into pots to increase the number of plants or if you have enough, pinch them out near their origin.

Pick your soft fruit and protect it with netting whilst it is ripening; birds apparently love soft fruit even more than you do, and your entire crop can disappear with astonishing speed unless protected!

Thin apples and plums to 3 - 4 fruits per cluster - ideally you should remove ALL fruitlets from trees planted in the last year to allow them to develop a good branch structure. If you can’t bear to do this, just leave a few for interest!

Summer prune apple and pear trees to encourage the development of fruiting spurs and to maintain the form of cordon, espalier and fan-trained trees. Cut back laterals to 3 - 5 buds.

Look out for suckers on apple, pear and plum trees - if you spot them, tear downwards to remove - do not cut them or they’ll be back!


The centres are still full of teenage plantlets of vegetables, salads and herbs. For those who find growing from seed daunting, this is the ideal solution, so plant away and look forward to the fruits of your labours!

Sow salads little and often - in short runs every fortnight is ideal to ensure a continuous crop.

Sow maincrop carrotspeas, spring cabbages, turnips and chicory.

Plant out brassicas such as Brussels sprouts, winter cabbages and sprouting broccoli and grow short term crops such as lettuces and radishes between them to maximise the space. Remember to cover brassicas with netting to avoid disappointment - pigeons have no sense of morality!

Plant leeks for winter harvesting - buy them as plantlets from the centre if you haven't grown your own.

Sow chard and perpetual spinach if you haven't already done so - once they start cropping pick them over lightly and frequently to keep the supply of fresh new leaves coming.

Harvest young courgettes for the best flavour (try sprinkling them with dill - absolutely delicious!), broad beans whilst they are still young and tender, peas, mange tout and sugar snaps.

Keep digging your potatoes... Oh the joy of unearthing a glorious potato nestled in the ground - it's fun for children too!

Feed tomato plants weekly with a high potash feed such as Tomorite. Tie loosely onto their canes and keep pinching out the side shoots of cordon tomatoes in the 'armpits' as soon as they appear - this is not necessary for bush varieties such as Gardener's Delight and Sungold. With plants grown outside, pinch off the tip of the main shoot a leaf or two above the 4th flower truss. Keep all tomato plants regularly watered - feast and famine leads to blossom end rot - the unsightly black blotches which indicate calcium deficiency due to patchy watering.

Don't eat any more asparagus - new crowns will set from spears left in place from now on.

Top tip

Sow salads and leaves 'little and often' in short runs - every fortnight should give you a continuous supply. For a quicker harvest, plant semi-grown teenage salads (available in the centre) and serve drizzled with olive oil, rich balsamic vinegar and snipped chives and mint.


Keep mowing your lawn but raise the height of your blades if the weather remains hot.

Feed established lawns if you haven't already done so with a summer lawn feed. If your lawn is mossy or full of weeds, use a feed with mosskiller or weedkiller, although this will also kill any wild flowers. If you have the lot, use combined feed, weed and mosskiller!

Add your grass clippings to the compost heap in shallow layers. A huge dollop will only turn slimy and spoil your compost.

Don't let newly laid lawns dry out in hot weather - water in the evenings and if there is a heat wave, consider leaving the lawn longer than usual just to help it through the hot weather.

If you are planning to seed a new lawn in the autumn, start preparing the area to allow the earth time to settle.




About the Author

John A

Member since: 27th February 2014

After 30 yrs of experience in the Horticultural Industry building two garden centres from green field sites and a wholesale nursery I thought it time for a change.Although this is a complete change of...

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