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Summer Gardening Tips

Tips for the whole summer season

Flowers Checklist

-prune wisteria, shortening all long wispy shoots back to about 20cm.

-water roses, climbers and shrubs growing against sunny walls. Don't forget to feed with a potash fertiliser.

-pick off the dead flower stems of geraniums and other bedding plants so they don't waste energy setting seed.

Watering

Watering is a chore that needs to be carried out throughout the summer season, but remember to use water wisely and, rather than drenching your entire garden regularly, concentrate your efforts on the following:

  • Plants growing in pots, containers and hanging baskets as these can dry out very quickly, often in the course of a few hours.
  • Newly planted trees and shrubs as these are very vulnerable to drought stress. As a guideline any specimen planted within the last four to five years falls into this category.
  • Any freshly sown or newly planted parts of your garden.
  • Herbaceous perennials which can suffer during sustained dry spells.
  • In the kitchen garden leafy vegetables such as lettuce and spinach should never be allowed to dry out. Other crops should be kept watered on sowing and transplanting and then later as the part that you eat, whether fruit, root or tuber, is developing.
  • Lawns can swallow up prodigious amounts of water which can be extremely wasteful, so, unless you have a high quality lawn, resolve to reduce or stop watering altogether. Instead, make sure that your lawn has been fed, and mow less often with the blades on a higher setting during dry periods. You will find that dry brownish patches will develop but these should disappear with the damper conditions of autumn.

Weeding

If you got on top of the weeding in spring and then managed to apply a weed suppressing mulch, you should have much less weeding to do now but do take the trouble to remove any weeds that are now ready to seed - remember the saying 'a stitch in time saves nine'...?
Whisking out the weeds before the seedheads develop will save you any amount of work in the future. The best time to do it is just after light rainfall when the weeds can be pulled out very easily.
Weeding is particularly important in the kitchen garden as any weeds will compete with your crops for essential moisture and nutrients.
Feeding
There is always a temptation to overfeed our gardens but this just results in lush sappy growth that is vulnerable to pests and diseases. So why waste money on unneccessary fertilizers? Instead, follow these guidelines to get the best results:

  • Plants in pots, containers and hanging baskets will suffer if you don't supplement the nutrients in the compost throughout the growing season. Either incorporate a slow release fertilizer at planting time or use a water soluble feed every week to ten days through the summer. Use a high nitrogen feed, such as Miracle Gro, until midsummer, then switch to a high potassium feed, such as one of the liquid tomato feeds.
  • If you prepared the ground well before planting, most vegetables won't need any additional feeding. The main exceptions are fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and aubergines, which definitely need extra feeding, following the instructions on the product, in order to crop well.

Early Summer

The ornamental garden

By early summer all danger of late frosts should have passed and it's safe to plant out tender summer bedding and to position summer containers and hanging baskets outside.
This is your last chance to stake or support plants before it is too late - once they've flopped it's very hard to rectify the situation! Use ready made plant supports from the garden centre or construct your own using canes and plastic coated wire, or, if you prefer, twiggy sticks pushed into the soil around the plants.
If there are any gaps in your ornamental borders, fill them with annual bedding plants or pick up some potted lilies or other summer flowering bulbs from the garden centre and plunge the pots into the soil.
Many spring flowering shrubs will benefit from pruning in early summer as this will give them time to make the new growth necessary for next year's flowers before the end of the season.
The vegetable garden
In the vegetable garden pinch out side shoots on tomatoes and enjoy harvesting and eating the first early potatoes - delicious!
Lettuce, radishes and other salad crops should also be ready now - don't forget to make repeat sowings at two or three week intervals so that you can enjoy these crops all summer long.

Lawns

Lawns will need mowing at least once a week by now. It's always best to mow little and often so make sure that the blades aren't set too low for the type of lawn.

Mid to Late Summer

House plants

It should now be warm enough for your house and conservatory plants to come out into the garden for a summer holiday which they will really appreciate.

The ornamental garden

Try to make the time to deadhead your bedding and repeat flowering plants to keep them producing blooms over a long period. This is a pleasant task for a summer's evening so get into the habit of taking a stroll around your garden at the end of the day and snipping or pinching off the spent blooms. If you do it little and often it really isn't a lot of trouble.

The vegetable garden

In the vegetable garden harvest your vegetables as soon as they are ready to eat - that way you will enjoy them at their peak of sweetness and flavour. Harvest courgettes and other continuous producers regularly to encourage more fruits to develop.
Lawns
If you didn't get around to feeding your lawn in the spring, you can still apply a fast acting lawn feed now - you will really notice the results.

 

Runner Beans

Garden ponds

Clear algae and blanket weed from your garden pond and keep it topped up - preferably with rainwater.
Holidays
Prepare for your holidays by making arrangement for friends or neighbours to pop round and water any containers, hanging baskets, and crops growing in your greenhouse.

Small Pond

 

 

Forward planning

As you will be out in your garden much more during the summer months, take the opportunity to assess your garden and make a note of any changes you would like to make - it always helps to take some photos to remind you what your borders looked like at various points in the season.
This is also a good time to order some bulb cataloques and plan the purchase of your spring flowering bulbs - this is a very enjoyable activity and one that can be carried out from the comfort of your deck chair!

By early summer all danger of late frosts should have passed and it's safe to plant out tender summer bedding and to position summer containers and hanging baskets outside. This is your last chance to stake or support plants before it is too late - once they've flopped it's very hard to rectify the situation! Use ready made plant supports from the garden centre or construct your own using canes and plastic coated wire, or, if you prefer, twiggy sticks pushed into the soil around the plants. If there are any gaps in your ornamental borders, fill them with annual bedding plants or pick up some potted lilies or other summer flowering bulbs from the garden centre and plunge the pots into the soil. Many spring flowering shrubs will benefit from pruning in early summer as this will give them time to make the new growth necessary for next year's flowers before the end of the season.