Summer garden tasks
Mid-summer gardening tasks
Trees & shrubs
Prune flowering shrubs after flowering. This will promote new growth and give more flowering wood for the next summer’s show. Whilst you are at it, follow the usual pruning mantras of removing any dead wood and crossing branches. It’s good practice to have a pot of disinfectant to park your secateurs in between plants to limit risk of cross-infection.
Keep up regular clipping of fast-growing hedges such as Privet and Leylandii before they get out of reach of your ladders.
Keep an eye open for any new bugs or pests. Keep a hand lens in your shirt pocket for easy examination and, even better, your mobile phone so you can take a picture of it for later identification.
Prune out and burn (if you can) any diseased or discoloured leaves. Don’t add to your compost as this may simply recycle the pathogen responsible in the first place. If you can’t have a bonfire, dispose of in your green-waste bin. Nowadays, it is very easy for even the complete novice to work out a diagnosis of a plant health issue using a combination of Google, You Tube and other such channels. Read around the topic to know which sites are giving the best and consistent advice. Be wary of sites that aren’t UK-based as other countries have quite different pests and diseases.
Keep on top of watering your plants in planters and containers. Water keeps roots cool as well as supplied and once a peat-based compost has dried out, it can be extremely difficult to fully re-wet and a plant can very quickly succumb to these conditions.
Apply slow-release fertiliser to maintain nutrient levels after the Spring growth has been achieved. Feeds applied in late summer can cause a spurt of new growth as autumn frosts are arriving, causing damage to the young tissues and creating potential infection sites.
If a prolonged dry spell is imminent or in progress, consider applying a bark or gravel mulch around your plants to help preserve the soil moisture levels beneath. This reduces evaporational losses and also reflects the sun’s direct heat. Beware of using a mulch that prevents gas exchange; a mat-forming medium is not good as it can create anaerobic conditions below, which won’t be good for the roots.
Remove dead flower heads to extend the flowering season.
Tie up, or add support to, any leggy perennials before they collapse over their neighbouring plants.
Need we mention weeding? Weeds compete for light, moisture and nutrients with your chosen plants and disrupt a carefully planned palette in the bed. If gardening for wildlife, then leave them where they are as you probably have a place in your heart and your garden for anything that grows, knowing that some creature will benefit from whatever is there. This approach also saves you hours of work, but be aware that clouds of thistledown or rosebay Willow Herb seeds blowing into your neighbour’s carefully tended show garden will not win you any brownie points with them.
Don’t cut too hard and close when temperatures are high but bring the blades up a notch or two.
Water in the evening to allow the water to penetrate before evaporating. Consider investing in a sprinkler. For the larger lawn, you can have a sprinkler that travels as it sprinkles.
Periodically aerate more heavily trafficked areas with a fork to relieve compaction and improve root growth. You can hire machines to do the same job if you have a larger area to work with.
Keep an eye on your birdbaths to maintain water levels and consider changing it frequently to avoid the build up of harmful bacteria or pathogens. Have some water sources at ground level for hedgehogs and other mammals.
Nut & seed feeding birds can have a thin time of it in early-mid summer before the natural sources start forming their fruits, so be prepared to maintain your feeders.