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Garden Maintenance: JULY

Top gardening jobs for July

1. Liquid feed your plants (especially those in pots and containers). Border plants will enjoy a quick acting liquid feed before they bloom. Combined with cutting out fading blooms, dead heading etc you may be able to revive tired displays and prolong flowering; this is especially effective for pot plants and flower borders.
2. Water your plants early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid waste through evaporation and leaves being scorched on hot days. Use recycled water wherever possible.
3. Keep new plants well watered until they are established; they need far more water than you think.
4. Have you got a compost bin yet? Its the easiest way to recycle!
5. Remember to regularly clear fallen leaves as this will help prevent plant diseases.
6. Cut lawns regularly but letting the grass grow a little longer than usual will help retain moisture during dry spells.

School holidays start soon:
- Is your garden child friendly?

Top Tip: Would you like your garden to have colour during the winter as well? Time to think about planting some winter flowering plants.

Lawn Care

- Mow regularly, except when the weather is very dry. You can prevent your lawn getting stressed in dry weather by cutting it higher than normal (this will help the lawn retain moisture).
- Don't worry about brown patches; it will recover when the rain returns! If you have children/pets then your lawn will be better able to cope with the extra ware if you don't cut it too short. This is where a professional mower with height adjusters is so useful!
- Do you have yellow patches on your lawn? If they contain small pink/red strands, then you may have a problem with red-thread in the lawn. Red-thread is a fungal disease and results when nitrogen is washed out of the soil.
- Grass feeds on Nitrogen so apply a nitrogen-rich fertiliser and the damage should soon disappear.
- Warm summer weather can mean a heavy infestation of ants. Unsightly ant hills in your lawn can be removed by simply brushing them out on a dry day. Do this before mowing as the extra resistance of the ant hills could damage your mower!
- Dig out isolated weeds or spot-treat them with a paint-on weed killer.

Trees, shrubs and climbers

- Remember to help climbers and ramblers wrap around their supports as they grow. (this is called tieing-in).
- A good looking tree has one stem/trunk. Sometimes you get 'suckers'; new shoots growing from the base; cut these off as they divert energy from the rest of the plant and look ugly!
- Prune deciduous magnolias if necessary; unusual as deciduous trees (meaning the drop their leaves in the winter) are often pruned when they are dormant i.e. In the winter.
- Prune June-flowering shrubs such as Philadelphus and Weigela after flowering.
- Remember, you prune for shape, to remove dead or overcrowded branches and to encourage new growth.
- Take cuttings from shrubs such as Choisya, Hydrangea and Philadelphus. The cuttings should be semi-ripe (meaning that the cutting should not be woody but still green and fleshy).
- Like Clematis? Make more by taking internodal cuttings - taking a section of stem sections above and below a leaf, rather than cutting the stem immediately below a leaf joint.

Flowers

- Prop-up tall perennial plants to stop them breaking in the wind and losing what is often a short bloom anyway!
- Mulching borders can help retain moisture and keep down the weeds - this will save you a lot of work and leave your gardener to do more necessary work in your garden!
- Autumn-flowering bulbs, such as autumn crocuses, Colchicum, Sternbergia, Amaryllis and Nerine, can be planted now.
- Cut back delphiniums and geraniums after the first flush of flowers to encourage a second flowering period then feed them to support the new growth.
- Poppy's and love-in-a-mist (among others; typically wild varieties) will produce seeds that you can collect for planting later in the year.
- Divide clumps of iris.
- Weeds are best dealt with when they are actually growing; you can see them and many of the weed killers depend upon weeds being in active growth. Digging out the weeds will work but a weed killer can be more practical for large areas. It may actually cost less and be preferred by your gardener to use weed killer; buying in bulk, your gardener can probably supply weed killer cheaper than if you were to buy a squeezy bottle.

Greenhouse and houseplants

- Damp down greenhouses on hot days to increase humidity and stop it getting too hot.
- Any cuttings taken so far can be grown on in the greenhouse. Fuschias for example.

Ponds

- Watch the water level of ponds and water features topping up as necessary.
- Aquatic plants can also benefit from feeding, dead heading and removing fading foliage to prolong their display and keep them healthy and looking tidy just like your flower bed. Cut back any pond plants that are getting out of hand.
- Think about pond hygiene; pull out blanket weed (leaving it at the side of the pond to allow beneficial insects to crawl back in). Does the bottom of the pond need some attention to remove a build up of debris?

Soft Landscaping

- Paint wooden structures now while the weather is dry. Fence panels are expensive so remember to protect them with a preservative.
- Start / build a compost heap if not already done so.
- Fit a water butt.
- Mulch borders to help retain moisture in dry weather.

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