This month is all about maintaining your blooms, nurturing your fruit plants and providing your garden with the care it needs to prevent it from drying out and becoming damaged during warmer months.
Gardens are at their most colourful in mid-summer, after April showers encourage growth and wellness. High summer means nature is blooming in its full glory, with gardens seeing plants showing off their glorious foliage and flower displays – filling borders and patio containers with colour and fragrance.
Jobs to do in the garden in July
Peak gardening season is well underway, which means there are plenty of jobs to keep garden ideas looking their best in July.
‘July is the time to embrace all your earlier gardening efforts,’ says Marcus Eyles, resident gardening expert and Horticultural Director at Dobbies. ‘Enjoying plants and flowers, many of which will be putting on their best displays of the year this month.’
‘Make the most of any good weather, but don’t forget to regularly water and feed your plants, consistency is key!’. As well as watering regularly Marcus shares further advice for July gardening…
1. Carry out mindful watering
Hot weather means watering is even more key, as plants get thirsty too. ‘Make sure you keep your show-stopping display of summer colour by regularly watering container plants and add a balanced liquid fertiliser every other week to encourage strong healthy growth and continual flowering. Remove dead flowers as soon as they go over to encourage more to follow’ advices Marcus Eyles at Dobbies.
‘It is important that you water the trees, shrubs and perennials that were planted in spring. Make sure you are watering the base of the plant and avoid wetting the leaves as they won’t absorb any water this way and wetting the leaf tissue can even encourage fungal diseases.’
But Marcus is keen for gardeners to explore more sustainable garden idea as we water. He advises, ‘To make water go further, water thoroughly less frequently, rather than little and often – so a few times a week rather than every day, depending on rainfall of course.’
‘Place buckets under hanging baskets to catch excess water that can be used in other areas of your garden, little changes like this can make a big difference if we were all to do them.’
2. Thin out fruit trees
During peak gardening season, the favourable conditions for plant growth means that fruit trees can abundantly over-produce. Large quantities of heavy fruits such as apples, pears and plums on the branches can often result in a final crop of disappointingly small fruits. This is due to the high demand put on the tree’s resources and the limited sunlight penetrating its heavy branches.
July is prime time to thin out your dense crops by removing any excess or damaged fruits from the plant, enabling it to develop a more evenly ripe crop of fruits.
‘Prune stone fruit trees such as cherry and plum this month, removing any crossing branches to maintain an open framework’ is Marcus’ advice. ‘These fruit types are susceptible to certain fungal diseases through open wounds if pruned in the winter, whilst pruning at this time helps to avoid risk of infection.’
3. Cultivate kitchen garden crops
‘Tomato, pepper and cucumber crops require regular feeding with a high potash tomato fertiliser’ explains Marcus. ‘Pinch out side-shoots of tomatoes to concentrate growing energy into trusses of fruit. Water regularly and consistently.
‘Plant out leeks and brassicas for a winter supply. Late sowings of beetroot, radishes, lettuce and salad crops grow quickly in the warm soils for an extended season of fresh vegetables. ‘
‘Continue to earth up main-crop potatoes, to avoid tubers being exposed to the light and turning green. Early potatoes will be ready for harvesting, maturing around 10 weeks from planting.
4. Love your lawn
Summertime means that everything will be growing extremely fast and as a result, you will need to make sure you are mowing your lawn once a week to keep it in good health. It is also important to water your lawn regularly to prevent it from turning brown and drying out during the hotter months. If your ground has become dry, spike it gently with a garden fork before watering to aid the penetration of the water.
‘Regular mowing is best for a manicured lawn, reducing the cutting height in hot weather to help prevent drying out’ Marcus advices. ‘Keeping the blades slightly higher helps the grass resist the extra summer wear.
To encourage more garden wildlife, allow your grass to grow and the wildflowers will bloom to support pollinating insects or leave some areas of grass to grow.’
5. Take cuttings from your perennials
‘Encourage fresh growth by cutting back herbaceous plants such as Delphinium, Lupin and hardy Geranium after their first flush of flower’ advises Marcus. ‘Put supports in place around tall herbaceous perennials such as Delphiniums and Gladioli to prevent damage from wind and rain.’
Tender perennials such as Fuchsias are best propagated from cuttings, and so July is a great time to get snipping. As young plants root more easily, cuttings should be taken from the tender new growth for the season. Either pot the plants now so that they develop sufficient roots to survive in the winter, or hold onto your cuttings until the following spring.
‘Summer prune Wisteria, cutting whippy side shoots back to around five leaves from the main stem. This will encourage new flower buds to form and improve your display next year.’
6. Feed the birds
Summer feeding is in full swing, so remember to top up your bird and wildlife feeders and water containers. The warmer weather means that July is an especially important month to tend to nature and keep your garden abuzz with birds, bees and other wildlife – particularly as over 82 per cent of Brits would like to attract more wildlife into their gardens.
Birds in particular relish in gardeners’ efforts, using bird baths to both hydrate and cool down through bathing in the water. Read our wildlife garden ideas for 15 easy ways to turn your outdoor space into a haven for wildlife.
7. Give bees a boost
If June has been as predictably hot and wet as usual then nectar-rich flowers could be few and far between so help out the honey bees by planting lavender, jasmine and bergamot. Make sure the flightpath between flowers – and, if you have one, a beehive or bee house – is free from overgrowth.
The bees will be doing their best to harvest the pollen so the last thing they need is to have to risk losing their precious load in the long grass. The RHS have a helpful list of garden and wild flowers that are perfect for pollinators.
8. Get ahead with sowing
If you really want to get ahead, sow biennials such as foxgloves, Sweet William (pictured above), wallflowers, honesty and forget-me-nots, to plant out in autumn for a stunning display next spring. Sow into large seed trays or a dedicated seed bed, then separate seedlings when large enough to handle.
Sow late summer and winter crops such as leeks, carrots, cauliflower, sprouting broccoli, cabbages and dwarf peas. You can also continue to sow lettuces, radishes and beetroot in between the rows of slower-growing crops.
9. Lend a hand to wildlife
Care for birds and wildlife by cleaning and topping up birdbaths and feeders. Avoid pruning your hedges until the end of August at the earliest. The main breeding time for garden birds is between March and August so give them time to rear their young.
Conifers in particular provide nesting sites for blackbirds, robins, and greenfinches, as well as larger birds such as sparrowhawks and crows. Top up ponds, ideally with rainwater and remove dead foliage from aquatic and marginal plants. Blanket weed can also be a problem – carefully remove using a garden fork and leave by the side of the pond so any creatures can crawl back into the water.
10. Collect and store seeds
Collect the seed of flowers that you want to grow again next year. Store the seeds in paper bags or envelopes, labelled with the plant name and harvest date. Preserve them in a cool, dry place.
11. Tend to greenhouse plants
‘Harden off remaining bedding plants you have been growing from young plug plants. Acclimatise over a period of a few days before planting out in their final positions’ says Marcus. ‘Plant up any pots with tender vegetables or Mediterranean herbs that will appreciate the warmer and sheltered growing position.’
12. Carry out regular checks for plant supports
Check supports for climbing plants; the strong winds and torrential rain will have put considerable pressure on everything but regular tidying in the garden is easier to deal with than leaving it all until the end of the summer. Check for weeds in flower beds and prune wisteria, box hedges, honeysuckle and bay laurel.
13. Dote on Dahlias
Dahlias are incredibly thirsty plants – just look at their fleshy leaves and luscious stems and it’s easy to see why. To ensure your Dahlias are blooming bright with an abundance of beautiful flowers, nourish your plants with liquid feed and regularly water them during the next month. While smaller Dahlias are self-standing, the tall varieties may need supporting with stakes – simply tie the stems to the stake with string to keep their flower heads up right.
Whether you’re planting, pruning or reaping the rewards of your burgeoning fruit trees, you are sure to discover many delights in the garden this month.