What to do in the Garden in July


Prune spring flowering shrubs

Now’s the time to prune spring flowering shrubs, such as Philadelphus, Weigela and Kolkwitzia. The general rule with shrub pruning is to reduce by one-third once a year just after flowering and a hard prune once every few years (or when it starts to look too dense).


What is the best way to prune shrubs?

Trees and large shrubs may require the use of a small hand saw. Always cut branches at the ‘collar’ of the join (where the branch joins on to the main stem/main branch) - cut just above the collar.

For dense shrubs, start by removing all the widest stems as close to the base as possible leaving the younger, more flexible growth with more space.

For anything else, always start by removing any dead or diseased wood and then move on to crossing/inward growing branches.


Cut twice on big branches: When removing any large branches from a tree or large shrub always make your first cut up to 12” away from the main stem/branch. Also, make a small cut on the underside of the branch slightly further in towards the trunk. If the weight of the branch breaks as you’re cutting it, instead of tearing down the length of the trunk it will only tear until the cut on the underside. The stump left behind can be sawn off safely afterwards.


Prune Wisteria

Once all the flowers have gone from your Wisteria the old flower spikes look very untidy. Using a pair of secateurs cut all of the old flower spikes off three buds from where they meet the main branch leaving just the main framework behind.


Clip Box, Euonymus and Privet hedging

By July Box, Euonymus and Privet hedges should have put on a good few inches of growth. To keep them under control it’s best to clip them regularly, starting in July – leaving it until their unruly makes for much heavier work later on. Use a hedge trimmer or shears to snip the excess growth.

If you have a gravel path or driveway alongside your hedge, it’s well worth putting a sheet or tarpaulin down while you cut it. The leaves are very small and are very difficult to pick out of the gravel.
Deadhead perennials and summer bedding

Deadheading perennials will encourage new flowers to grow throughout the summer. Use secateurs to deadhead perennials, simply snip the spent flower to remove it from the plant. You can dead-head most bedding plants by ‘pinching’ the old flower off with your fingers.


Top-up your pond

The warm weather often leaves ponds looking a bit drained – make sure you keep it topped up to prevent it from drying out!


Check plant supports

Plant supports start to take the strain at this time of year. Check that everything is tied in securely, especially on wall-trained plants such as Hydrangea, Roses and Fruit Trees.


Tackle Bindweed and Ground Elder

If you have a Bindweed or Ground Elder problem in your garden, it will really start to take over by July so it’s time to control it. It’s almost impossible to completely get rid of it forever, however, it can be controlled.


Ways to control Bindweed

The organic method: Getting rid of Bindweed without chemicals is a tiresome task, but well worth the effort if you take pride in maintaining an organic garden.

1. Pull as much Bindweed off any plants it is smothering as possible, it doesn’t matter at this stage if the stems break.

2. Using a border fork, dig around every single Bindweed stem in sight pulling the white ‘stringy’ roots out as you see them. The roots can grow quite deep in the ground so it’s important to dig as deep as possible, pulling out every single root that you see.

3. It’s more than likely that within a few weeks, signs of new Bindweed plants will be appearing in your borders again, the best thing to do is just dig them up as soon as you see them and not to let it get out of control.

The chemical method: The chemical method delivers results that last a lot longer than digging, however, it is exceptionally fiddly!

1. Glyphosate or Roundup are ideal for killing off Bindweed, but it is essential that full protective clothing is worn during application, including rubber gloves, goggles, full-length sleeves, trousers and wellies.

2. Being careful not to break any of the Bindweed stems, unwind the weed from the neighbouring plant.

3. Gather together a handful of unwound Bindweed stems and put them in a plastic bag (make sure there are no holes in it!) as far away from ornamental plants as they’ll reach. Ideally, the top 5 inches or more of each stem needs to be in the bag.

4. Pour in a small amount of diluted herbicide, making sure it covers all of the leaves in the bag and seal the top with a clip or band.

5. Repeat this process so eventually, all of the Bindweed is unwound with the tips in contact with herbicide.

6. Leave the bags for around a week, you’ll notice that even though just the tips of the stems are in contact with herbicide the whole plant starts to go yellow and die-off.

7. Once the Bindweed is yellow it can be pulled from the ground. Many of the roots will have been killed in the process so it is unnecessary to dig them up.


Ways to control Ground Elder

The organic method: The best way to tackle Ground Elder is good, old-fashioned digging. The roots spread out like a web of white string under the soil surface, however, it’s not usually deeper than 6 inches.

1. Ground Elder grows in patches – as soon as you notice one, they’ll multiply into hundreds before you know it! Use a fork to dig as much of the root system as possible. Any little bit left in the ground will grow into another plant.

2. Throw Ground Elder roots in the rubbish or garden waste collection bin.

The chemical method: An application of herbicide such as Glyphosate or Roundup will kill off Ground Elder, however, it’s almost impossible to completely get rid of it.

1. Dilute herbicide as per instructions on the label – NB makes sure you wear full protective clothing including rubber gloves, goggles, full-length sleeves, trousers and wellies.

2. Using a herbicide sprayer, spray all over the leaves and leave for up to a week. The leaves will eventually go brown, then they can be dug up or trimmed away.

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