Jobs to do in the garden in July
July may be the height of the gardening season; it is a time of maintenance and harvest, giving you plenty of jobs to do in the garden in July.
Garden maintenance involves adapting to the changing weather and completing the general tasks to keep and encourage the most growth in the garden.
One of the most important garden tasks is watering; it must be watered thoroughly once or twice per week instead of little and often. Watering thoroughly will encourage the roots of plants to grow deeper in search of water instead of turning up toward the surface. The exception to this rule is for container gardens and hanging baskets which need watering every day to keep from drying out. They sometimes even require watering twice per day when the weather is extremely hot and windy.
Watering recently planted large trees or shrubs should involve laying a hose at the base and having water trickle over the area for about an hour. Established plants may require a similar watering protocol during very dry periods. This is especially true for plants like rhododendrons, camellias, azaleas, and hydrangeas because they have a tendency to abort their flowers the following season if they are permitted to get too dry. One way to avoid this drying out is by placing mulch around the roots to keep them moist. A trickle hose may be the best option for recently planted hedges; left running for about an hour the water will saturate the ground.
Since water is such a precious natural resource, it must be protected and used wisely whenever possible. One way in which water can be conserved for watering purposes is by instituting good practices such as reusing bath or kitchen water for watering plants, shrubs, and trees. Of course, the reused water must be free from grease or detergent and should not be excessively dirty. Rainwater can also be collected by using butts, or rain collecting barrels. Also, be careful not to use tap water, or water straight from the hose for watering lime-hating plants. These plants include azaleas, rhododendrons, and camellias; they will surely not respond well to such treatment.
Watering is such an important task in the beginning and as general maintenance. Successful plantings will most often be the result of watering in well at the start, whether the plantings are trees, shrubs, bedding plants, or perennials. For such larger plantings soaking the root ball in a bucket prior to planting is one way to give the plant a huge advantage. The root ball should be soaked until air bubbles cease to rise to the surface. The planting hole should also be filled with water and permitted to drain away. Once the plant is placed in the hole and it is filled and covered with soil, it should be firmed gently and then watered well. In comparison to being planted with a dry root ball in a dry hole and watered only at the surface, the extra few watering steps will give the plant the best chance of establishing in its new location. For shrubs and trees that have been planted in recent years (one or two years) on lawns or in rough grass areas it is important to keep the earth around them clear from grass or other growth. Not doing this can create problems by not allowing essential moisture to get through to the roots. One easy way to deal with this problem is by mulching around the plant with bark or compost.
When it comes to general maintenance in garden beds and borders, a hoe should be used to get rid of annual weeds like chickweed and bitter cress. Perennial weeds like ground elder can be attacked when it is dry with systemic weed killer applied to the leaves. If there is not enough time to use the systemic week killers then it may be best to just cut the culprits down to prevent them from setting seed. Remember, these types of weed killers must be applied carefully because they will kill anything they contact. If you are so fortunate to have a pond or water feature in your garden you should keep either or both topped up with fresh water. This will help prevent any build-up of algae due to the warm weather. This is important because the algae can be toxic and sometimes even fatal to certain animals.
Finally, summer garden maintenance will likely involve a battle against pests. The warm weather will surely bring out pests like caterpillars and aphids, which when caught early can be dealt with by hand. If they are not caught early there are only two options. One option is to use insecticides, which may people do not like to do, especially if they are not organic in nature. The other option is to just deal with it. There may be one other option, which is to attract beneficial insects that will battle with the unwanted insects. This can be done by growing a wide variety of plants to attract insects like lacewings, wasps, and even ladybirds, whose larvae are predators of aphids.