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Garden and grounds maintenance throughout the year.





July

Summer is progressing

This is often one of the hottest months of the year and a great time to sit out and enjoy your garden. Keep plants looking good by regularly dead-heading, and you'll enjoy a longer display of blooms. Make sure you keep new plants well watered, using grey water where possible, and hoe off weeds, which thrive in the sunshine.

Top 10 jobs this month

Lawns

  1. Keep mowing regularly, except during drought. In hot weather, set the mower at a slightly higher level than normal for early summer. This can prevent the lawn drying in hot weather.

    Last time to apply a liquid summer lawn fertiliser, especially if a spring feed was not given. A soluble feed and weed product may be useful if there are weeds present in the lawn.

    Don’t worry unduly about brown patches on the lawn - they will recover quickly when the autumn rains arrive.

    If a completely green lawn is necessary, then use a sprinkler once a week. Place an open jam-jar on the lawn and leave the sprinkler running for sufficient time for 13mm (0.5in) of water to collect in the bottom of the jar. This is the optimum amount to avoid wasting water, while still wetting the roots sufficiently.

    New areas of grass, sown or turfed in the spring, will need extra watering to keep them going through their first summer.

    Lawn growth slows down in late summer. Raise the cutting height slightly as the month progresses, to help the grass better resist the wear it suffers in summer.

Troubleshooting

  1. Inspect any yellow patches on the lawn: if they contain small pinkish-red strands, then you may have red-thread in the lawn. This is a fungal disease, common on light soils after heavy rain, when the nitrogen is washed out of the soil. A nitrogen-rich fertiliser should remedy the situation, and the damage is rarely long-lived.

    By mid-summer some lawns may be heavily infested by ants. Brushing out the nests on a dry day is the best method of control, and should be done prior to mowing.

    Isolated weeds can be dug out or spot-treated with a paint-on weedkiller.

    When mowing, take time to generally inspect the lawn. You may notice areas that could benefit from more radical renovation in the autumn.

Trees and shrubs

Pruning and training

  1. Prune June-flowering shrubs such as Philadelphus and Weigela after flowering. Prune deciduous magnolias if necessary.

    Fast-growing hedges such as Leyland cypress should be clipped as necessary throughout the growing season.

    Tie-in climbers and ramblers as they grow.

Propagation

  1. Take semi-ripe cuttings of shrubs such as ChoisyaHydrangea and Philadelphus. Root them in pots of gritty compost in a cold frame or even with a plastic bag tied over them.

    Clematis can be propagated by taking internodal cuttings (i.e. taking stem sections above and below a leaf, rather than cutting the stem immediately below a leaf joint).

    Air-layering is another method of propagation that can be used for some climbers, such as Akebia, and some shrubs, such as Magnolia.

General maintenance

  1. Look out for tall, flowering stalks on established bamboos and remove them promptly. Flowering can weaken the plants, as well as being unsightly.

    Ensure newly planted trees and shrubs do not dry out. They often need much more water than people imagine

    Remove rose suckers and tree suckers.

Pest and disease watch

  1. Brown patches on conifers may indicate an earlier infestation by the cypress aphids. Telltale signs include black sooty mould along the stems and shed skin cases. Spraying earlier in the summer may have helped, but once damage is done, conifers can take a long time to recover. Where hedges are affected prune out brown shoots and tie in neighbouring branches to help fill the gaps.

    Thickened and curled margins on bay trees (Laurus nobilis) are a sign of damage by the bay sucker. Scale insects can also affect bays at this time of year.

    Neat circular areas removed from the edges of rose and other leaves are telltale signs of leaf-cutter bees at work. These fascinating creatures are best tolerated since damage is rarely severe.

    Yellow and distorted leaves on cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) indicate a powdery mildew problem.

    You may notice damage to leaves of Viburnum by viburnum beetles. The damage is not usually bad enough to warrant treatment.