As we head towards that half way point in the year and the garden is at its peak it’s easy to think that the work is all over until autumn. A lot of your time in the garden should be spent just enjoying it, however there is always the grass to cut when you are about to sit and enjoy the sunshine.
There are also plenty of other jobs to do to keep the garden looking good through summer and into autumn.
Don’t cut the grass too short. Keeping the grass slightly longer means it stays looking green for longer if the weather is dry. Scalping the lawn means brown patches appear more readily.
If you are going to tackle weeds careful spot treatment is best. Don’t apply solid chemical fertilisers, dry weather is likely and this will cause scorch. If you need to give the grass a boost, use a liquid fertiliser; this can be applied using a hose-end diluter.
Prune early flowering shrubs such as deutzia and Philadelphia as soon as they finish flowering. Cut out some of the flowered stems, back to where you see new shoots growing low down on the branches. Remember, not everything needs pruning: check before you cut
Deadheading is the order of the day. As flowers on seasonal bedding plants fade pick them off to encourage more. This is particularly important with recently planted subjects.
Dead head roses to encourage further flowering. Make a note to apply another dose of rose fertiliser as soon as the first flush has finished.
Remove faded flowerheads and developing seeds from rhododendrons. This encourages the new growth to develop more quickly.
New shoots can be slow if the old flower heads are still in place. Where deadheading is just impractical feed the shrubs with an ericaceous fertiliser and water, particularly if the weather is dry.
Regular watering on the vegetable patch or vegetables growing in containers is really important. Peas and beans may fail to set if they are dry at flowering time.
If it has been dry, water potatoes and leave them in the ground for a while for tubers to develop. Keep courgettes well watered to encourage growth and fruiting and avoid mildew. Watering pots on the patio is also vital; they dry out all too quickly.
A long handled sprayer is ideal to reach across the pots and direct the water where it is needed.
Watch out for slugs and snails, particularly on hostas. Use nature-friendly slug pellets, but still try and collect the corpses to prevent birds and other wildlife from eating the dead molluscs. This is just a further precaution.
This is a great time to tackle perennial weeds such as bindweed and nettles in full growth. Spray carefully on a still day with glyphosate based weedkiller.
Because the plants have plenty of foliage they absorb more of the chemical and you have a better chance of killing the roots. If you only have a few weeds growing amongst other plants try a gel formulation.
Usually by now that first crop of salad leaves is exhausted. Rocket, mustards and spinach all hate hot dry weather and bolt quickly making later sowings tricky.
If the vegetable patch is in full sun, which it should be try sowing in pots in semi-shade. Ideally somewhere that gets morning or late afternoon direct light. This should keep them cooler and germination will be more successful.
Trim box hedges and topiary now that the flush of new growth has developed and danger of frost has passed. This can be done with a light pair of hedging shears or topiary shears.
Take your time and go gradually. Once you’ve cut it you can’t put it back. After clipping apply slow release fertiliser, if you didn’t do it earlier in the year, and water well.
Look out for caterpillars amongst the brassicas. Cabbages, cauliflowers, broccoli and related crops are targets for the cabbage white butterfly and other species that lay their eggs that will develop into hungry caterpillars.
Either protect with an insect barrier. Religiously pick off the caterpillars when they appear. Or use an organic, nature friendly spray on eggs or caterpillars.