Click here to read my watering advice to readers and garden-coaching clients – all about keeping plants alive without wasting water. Speaking of wasting water, some common ways to do that are hand-watering lawns, using outdated automatic sprinkler systems that don’t adjust for rainfall, and hand-watering a fine spray when deep watering to the root zone (of trees and shrubs) is what’s needed.
Here I’m not striving for weed-free perfection – which would last about a minute, anyway. My goal is a more reasonable one – to keep the jungle at bay, and remove enough weeds to keep them from robbing TOO much water and nutrition from the plants I want to thrive. And about those rampant weed vines? Do yourself and your garden a favor and dig ’em up, roots and all.
I actually enjoy weeding and do a bit every morning before it gets too hot. The only problem is that weeding is hard on my middle-aged back, so I limit myself to 20-30 minutes at a time.
Continue feeding annuals and summer vegetables this month, and give repeat-blooming roses one more feeding for the season. Don’t fertilize anything else this month – that includes most definitely your lawn.
If you haven’t yet pruned your early-blooming perennials like Spiderwort and Salvia, click here to learn how.
July 4 is commonly mentioned as the last safe date to prune spring-blooming shrubs like azaleas without removing next year’s buds – don’t want to do that! But feel free to remove dead, diseased or broken branches from any shrub or tree. Also, branches that cause crowding or are growing where you don’t want them to grow – like over your sidewalk or front door stoop.
It’s also a fine time to do renewal pruning, in which you remove about a third of the oldest stems completely – to the ground. I’ve removed huge masses of branches from my large cherry-laurel hedge that way, resulting in an open shrub that gets more light and air, and that helps prevent pests of all types. Other candidates for renewal pruning in my garden this month are the full-grown viburnums (both doublefile and the snowball type) and the large weigelas, and they’ll likewise produce huge heaps of pruned-away branches. My pruning students are shocked by how much needs to be removed.
While fall is the best time to plant, sometimes you absolutely have to plant or move something in the summer – that’s the reality of gardening. There’s no guarantee that the plant will actually survive the move but its chances will be greatly improved if it’s watered every single day until the weather cools down (by you or from the heavens), and if you can plant it in the shade. If you have to plant something in the sun this month, protect it with a makeshift shade device. I’ve used a sheet supported by lawn chairs and I’ve seen others use thick landscape fabric for this purpose. Whatever it takes, it’s worth trying to provide shade.
In the veg garden, cucumbers, beans, beets, carrots and Swiss chard can be direct sown in through the end of July.