July is usually one of the hottest months of the year, but that’s no excuse to abandon your garden and greenhouse to the heat.
Gardening in July is a busy time; jobs include deadheading plants that can bloom again, mowing and fertilising your lawn, harvesting vegetables and fruit trees, and keeping an eye out for pests. There are also plenty of things to plant, from fast-growing lettuce and herbs to autumn, winter and spring veg. And, since it can be hot, it’s also crucial to keep flowers, trees and vegetables well-watered.
Read on to find out what to do in the garden in July and what to plant and sow this time of the year.
Gardening in July: what you should be doing in the garden now
There’s no shortage of July gardening jobs you can do. From deadheading plants in the flower beds to keep them blooming and harvesting summer crops, to minding the small but important things like topping up bird baths and water features, here’s a list of the key things you should be doing in the garden in July:
1. Deadhead plants that can bloom again
Keep an eye on your flower beds, borders, pots and hanging baskets and remove withered flowers and spent blooms. Throughout this month, deadhead any plants that can bloom again to encourage the growth of new flowers.
- Deadhead summer flowers every few days.
- Remove spent and withered rose flowers to keep them flowering throughout summer.
- Deadhead repeat-flowering perennials and annuals.
- Regularly remove the spent flowers of annual sweet peas after flowering begins.
2. Give your lawn a high cut
In July grass can lose moisture fast. You may notice this as the blades of grass lose colour and begin to droop. Regular mowing is still important, but allowing the grass to grow taller can help it shade the soil and retain moisture. It will also rob weeds of sunlight, making it harder for them to take over your lawn.
- Set the mower blades high and let the grass grow longer to make it easier for it to cope with the stress resulting from the summer heat.
- Sharpen your mower blades if they need it. This will give the grass blades a clean cut that reduces the risk of disease.
- Cut most types of grass at a height between 2.5 and 4 inches.
3. Keep your lawn and plants well-watered
Many gardens in the UK don’t get enough rainfall in July. Unless you water your garden regularly, it will struggle to stay healthy.
- Water your lawn thoroughly early in the morning between 8 and 10am before the heat of the day sets in. On very hot July days, water in the evening to reduce evaporation.
- Don’t allow a new lawn (seeded in the last nine months) to dry out or it may become damaged. New lawns are more sensitive to heat and dryness.
- Water your outdoor plants and trees at dusk to minimise evaporation due to heat.
- Collect rainwater in water butts and use it to water your garden. It’s healthier for plants and trees than tap water.
- Water the soil at the base of plants and not the foliage, giving the plants enough water for it to pool around the base.
- Apply mulch around the roots of plants that need to retain moisture.
- Water fruits, vegetable crops and sensitive flowers daily if the weather is dry.
- Install automated lawn sprinklers and a drip irrigation system if you don’t have one already. It can save you a lot of work and keep your garden watered while you’re away on holiday.
4. Fertilise your lawn, plants and vegetables
You can continue to fertilise your lawn and most plants in July. Follow the instructions that come with the fertilisers you use. Don’t over-fertilise your lawn or plants to make up for the heat and dryness of summer.
- Fertilise the roses you have deadheaded to keep them blooming.
- Feed tomato plants that have pale and yellow leaves with tomato fertiliser.
- Apply a general-purpose fertiliser to your crop plants.
- Boost your cucumber and pepper crops by feeding them a high-potash fertiliser once the fruits begin to form.
- Fertilise your lawn to help it withstand the stress of summer and stay healthy and green.
5. Harvest mid-summer crops
Some July gardening jobs bring rewards faster than others. Your July garden can provide bountiful crops at this point in summer, from fragrant herbs to tasty veg and delicious fruits like cherries, peaches and apricots.
- Pick herbs, dry and freeze them so you can enjoy them during the colder seasons.
- Harvest ripe peaches, nectarines and apricots.
- Harvest blackcurrants and other ripe bush fruits.
- Gather juicy blueberries from your shrubs.
- Pick cherries with care so that you don’t damage the spurs from which the fruits grow.
- Gather shallots once their foliage starts to die.
- Harvest broad beans and runner beans and remove the plants. You can leave the roots in the soil to decompose and release nitrogen.
Tip: Picking cherries with stalks makes the fruits last longer after harvest, but can easily damage the spurs from which the fruits develop. For a rich crop next year, leave the stalks in the tree or pick the cherries carefully without damaging the spurs.
6. Prune trees and bushes that need it
Pruning and trimming help to keep your trees and bushes healthy and looking at their best.
- Prune stone fruit trees like peach, plum, apricot and cherry to reduce the risk of disease.
- Prune the stems of harvested blackcurrant bushes.
- Trim garden hedges and conifers to keep them neat.
- Thin out heavy fruit crops. Remove damaged or malformed fruits from your apple, pear and other fruit trees to improve the quality of your autumn crops.
7. Deal with weeds
Weeds thrive in the summer heat so stay vigilant and remove them early on before they can become a problem.
- Hand-weed your flower beds and borders regularly to prevent weeds from settling in them (make sure to water the soil before you start weeding).
- Cut off the seed heads of weeds that have gone to seed before removing the roots and stems with a hand fork or pointed trowel. This way, you prevent the seeds from spreading.
- If weeds proliferate in the heat of summer, apply a targeted weed killer to your lawn.
8. Check for pests and remove them
Many pests won’t mind the heat of July. On the contrary, they can easily proliferate in and out of your greenhouse. You have to stay on your guard or you may run the risk of losing crops and plants.
- Check for aphids and wash them off with a watering can or hose before they take over your runner beans and other crops.
- Keep an eye out for snails, vine weevils and lily beetles.
- Hose away sawfly larvae from your berry bushes once the heat of the day subsides. Or put on a pair of gloves and manually remove them.
- Keep slugs and snails away from your pot plants by applying copper tape to the rim of the pots. The copper plate will give slugs and snails a harmless electric shock, acting as a defence barrier for your plants.
- Look out for powdery mildew on plants. Pluck or cut away affected parts and use a fungicide to keep the disease in check.
- Check the roots of wilted plants for vine weevils and use nematodes to combat them.
9. Pinch out crop plants and trees that can benefit from it
Pinching out means removing new shoots from the stem or side branches of a plant. It’s a form of pruning that can help balance the foliage and crop production of a plant. It ensures that a bushy plant doesn’t put all its energy into growing greenery at the expense of crops.
- Pinch out tomato side shoots and remove excess leaves below the lower ripening fruit trusses to improve air circulation.
- Pinch out the growing tip of the aubergine plant once it has several fruits.
- Pinch out cucumber side shoots.
- Nip off the growing tips of courgettes and squash plants to promote branching.
- Pinch out the tips of fig side shoots to maximise your fig crop.
10. Mind the small things in your garden
Last but not least, don’t forget about a few small but important jobs you can do in and around your garden at this time of the year.
- Top up water features with water regularly as it will evaporate faster than at other times of the year.
- Clear your pond and fountains of algae and pondweed. Simply scoop it out before it proliferates.
- Remove floating blanket weed from water ponds with a stick. You can compost this weed. But first, allow any small animals that are trapped in it to return to the water.
- Check the supports of outdoor climbers and any other tall plants to ensure they are ready for summer storms.
- Water the greenhouse floor with a watering can to increase humidity.
- Open the door and vents of your greenhouse for better air circulation.
What to plant in July
From fast-growing herbs and salad leaves to autumn, winter and spring crops like Brussels sprouts, winter cabbages and Swiss chard, there are plenty of things you can plant in July, both outdoors and in your greenhouse. Plants you can sow now include forget-me-nots, scented annuals like petunia and marigold, and winter and spring-flowering plants.
Let’s take a closer look at the many vegetables and flowers you can plant in July:
Vegetables to plant in July
You can plant more than salad leaves and herbs in your vegetable garden in July. Here’s a list of vegetables to plant in July including both fast and slow crops that you can enjoy next year.
- Sow dill, parsley, basil and other quick-growing herbs in containers.
- Sow lettuce, rocket and other salad leaves regularly during July for a steady supply throughout the rest of the summer.
- Sow fast-growing radishes every few weeks (you can expect a crop in about a month).
- Sow perpetual spinach, outdoor peas, beetroot, endives and runner beans so you can enjoy them before the first frosts.
- Plant Brussels sprouts, sprouting broccoli, dwarf beans and peas early in July to enjoy them in the autumn.
- Sow carrots for an autumn crop (July is the last month you can do it!).
- Sow spring vegetables like spring onions, spring cabbages and Swiss chard.
- Plant winter cabbages, cauliflowers, turnips, leeks, kale and other winter veggies.
Flowers to plant in July
Flower seeds to plant in July include forget-me-nots, geraniums, echinacea, delphinium, pansies, foxgloves and sweet williams. Here are a few more ideas of flowers to plant in July in the UK to add colour and beauty to your garden:
- Fill gaps in your garden beds and borders with scented annuals like petunia, antirrhinum, marigold, alyssum and sweat pea.
- Sow forget-me-nots in any drab areas of your garden by sprinkling the seeds over the ground and gently raking them in.
- Sow in the greenhouse perennials that flower in the summer such as geraniums and echinacea.
- Plant autumn bulbs like sternbergia and colchicums in borders.
- Sow violas in containers for a touch of colour in your winter greenhouse.
- Sow spring-flowering perennials like delphinium, pansies, wallflowers and aquilegia in trays.
- Sow sweet williams, foxgloves and other biennials to enjoy between spring and summer next year.
The Wrap Up
As you can see, July can be a busy month for a gardener in the UK but that doesn’t mean you have to toil and sweat to keep things green and colourful in your garden.
Prioritise your gardening tasks according to the weather and tackle them systematically. You can fit most of them early in the morning or in the evening.
Don’t work in your garden during the midday heat. Watering, pruning, trimming or harvesting plants then isn’t healthy. And you also run the risk of heatstroke.
In the end, gardening in July can be a pleasure. Stay organised and don’t do more than you have to. That way, you can enjoy the process of caring for your garden even in the middle of a sweltering summer.