My 3 gardening jobs for July are all about giving your garden the helping hand it needs to stay looking fresh and colourful all summer long.
Your garden should be in full swing this month, with the showy flowers of Dahlia, tropical spikes of Knipofia (Red Hot Pokers) and glorious purple orbs of Echinops (Globe thistle) all bursting into bloom. You’ll also notice the lacy flowers of Nigella (Love-in-a-mist) gracing your borders and the giant sunshine-like heads of Helianthus annuus (Common sunflower) popping up above nearby fences. Give your plants a little help this July and they’ll keep delighting you for months to come.
Feed & weed
Flowerbeds and borders will be blooming by now, but don’t leave plants struggling to find nutrients in depleted soil.
Apply a good quality liquid feed to plant roots once a week to keep growth healthy, increase flower production and longevity and ensure a good yield in the case of food crops.
This is especially important for containerised plants that rely entirely on the compost in their pots to meet their nutritional needs. Always ensure plants are hydrated before you feed them, otherwise fertiliser can burn roots and inhibit nutrient uptake.
Different plants have different nutritional needs and different fertilisers are available to meet them. Nitrogen, for example, is important for producing strong stems and foliage, so fertilisers with high nitrogen levels are best for lawns and leafy vegetables.
High potash (that is, potassium-rich) fertilisers with low nitrogen levels, on the other hand, are better for plants like Dahlias that are grown for their blooms, since they nourish the flowers without over-feeding the stems.
See my full guide on NPK fertilisers for more details on which fertiliser to choose to feed your plants.
Do not underestimate the importance of keeping on top of weeding in July.
It’s not just a case of weeds looking unsightly in between your chosen flowers. Weeds will also steal vital moisture and nutrients away from nearby plants. Lift them our with hand tools, being careful to pull up as much of the root system as you can.
For tips on weeding for best results, see my blog.
Lawns are a central feature of so many UK gardens, but it can be hard to keep grass looking fresh and green all season without giving it a little bit of extra love here and there.
Now is the time to pull up large weeds before they have a chance to take over the whole garden.
Raking before you mow is a good way to control the spread of creeping weeds like clover and yarrow.
When conditions are warm and not overly dry, mow your lawn twice a week and use proper edging tools to keep it looking neat and trim.
However, reduce mowing to once a week in dry spells. This enables the grass to retain more water within its blades and will prevent brown patches appearing.
To get a fabulous striping pattern on special occasions, ensure your mower’s blades are sharp and clean, leave the grass a little longer than usual (to allow it to be swept in different directions more easily), and go over it with a lawn roller to intensify the markings.
Even the greenest lawn will benefit from a summer tonic to help it through the rest of the season. I recommend using a high-nitrogen granular fertiliser that you can sprinkle on and water in. Or save yourself a job and do it when rain is forecast. For more tips on lawn care, see my Guide to the Perfect Lawn.
It also keeps your containers and hanging baskets looking immaculate throughout the summer.
Plants that respond well to deadheading include Pansies and Violas, Pelargorium (Geraniums), Rosa (Roses), Lupinus (Lupins), Delphiniums and Phlox.
Note that some plants, such as Fuschias, Lobelia and Salvias, don’t need deadheading as they do not set much seed. Also avoid deadheading plants that have ornamental seeds or berries, such as Nigella (Love-in-a-mist) and Alliums (Firethorn).
Most flowering plants will produce more flowers with regular deadheading. Removing fading flowers stops them from going to seed, preventing the plant from thinking it has achieved its reproductive goal and directing its energies into producing seeds rather than further flowers.
So, get cracking on these jobs in your garden this July and keep it looking ship shape all summer long.