Get in the garden this July and spruce up your space so you’re ready for summer. From pruning to planting this is your go-to gardening guide
How to tidy up your garden in July so it’s looking its best for summer
+ The more you prune hydrangeas, the better the flowering next season. These shrubs can still be pruned in warm areas, but in colder places wait until you’re certain there’ll be no more frosts. Cut dead or spindly stems back to the ground and trim remaining branches back to a pair of fat buds. Give bushes a side dressing of blood and bone and dig in a bit of compost. Don’t throw all the trimmings onto the compost, though – use them for cuttings so you’ll have new plants for gifting or to fill gaps in the garden in spring. Choose stems with around 5-6cm below a pair of leaves.
+ If you didn’t get around to tidying up the garden at the end of summer, get onto it now. Remove old leaves and weeds as they are the perfect hiding spots for pests. Spray copper mixed with spraying oil on roses and other shrubs to discourage fungal disease and smother insect eggs.
+ Tidy up Dietes species by removing old leaves, but leave some of this season’s flower stems to produce more blooms in spring. Divide overgrown clumps, keep the newer outside parts and compost woody inside bits. It grows easily from seed so sprinkle it wherever you’d like new plants.
+ Newly planted trees need looking after when the weather is foul. Frost cloth is a must in cold areas and stakes are imperative for the first season or two, particularly if wind is an issue at your place. Use 3-4 good, strong stakes in a triangle or square and tie with hessian sacking or an old stocking.
+ It’s a little late for planting spring bulbs but you can still plant flowering summer bulbs and tuberous perennials such as calla, canna, lilies, hippeastrum, gladioli and nerine in warmer areas at this time of year. Where heavy frosts are likely, dahlia tubers and gladioli bulbs need to be dug up and stored in a cool, dry place.
+ Hedges can be planted in warmer areas while the ground is moist and not too cold. This also gives shrubs time to establish new roots before growth slows down. Mark out a straight row with a string line and dig a trench around 50cm wide by 40cm deep. Mix compost, well-rotted manure and/or sheep pellets into soil well before planting.
+ Avoid pruning trees and shrubs like conifers and lavender right back to bare wood as they often won’t sprout new leaves. Roses are the opposite; a hard prune reduces disease and encourages more flowers. Always cut just above an outward-facing bud for roses and most other shrubs, sloping the angle of the cut away from the bud so that water won’t run into it.
Words by: Carol Bucknell.