10 things to do in the garden
How to keep your garden in tip top condition – whether you're staying at home or going away – from keeping flowers blooming and adding instant colour to looking after your lawn
There’s not much the family-run Hillier Garden Centres don’t know about gardens and gardening (I mean, they’ve been around since 1864). They’re the place to go for everything needed to create, maintain and enjoy a beautiful garden but they’re also super knowledgeable about how to look after it all year round. So, what do the experts say we should be doing in the garden this summer?
Keep everything fed and watered
Give plants a good soaking evenly around the base, early in the morning, a few times a week but don’t over water Mediterranean plants like thyme, which like it hot and dry. If you’ve got lots to do, think about setting up an irrigation system. Water containers and pots often. Feed roses with high potash feeds and then mulch; feed plants in containers and hanging baskets.
Encourage flowers to bloom longer
Keep flowers blooming by deadheading regularly and cutting back perennials like geraniums. Deadhead roses by cutting down to the next outward facing bud and at a side angle to ensure water runs over the cut and down the stem. Prune wisteria and rambling roses; trim lavender once it’s flowered.
If you need to add instant colour to the garden now, think of climbers like clematis, honeysuckle; roses, perennials like aster, scabious and rudbeckia; summer bedding plants; and structural canna and trachycarpus. Remember to water well whilst they’re getting established.
Plant autumn flowering bulbs like nerine and dahlias towards the end of the month, so get your bulb planters, trowel, plant labels and multi-purpose compost ready.
Reap rewards from your veg patch
Continue picking soft fruit, apples, veg and salads to keep them coming. As summer fruited raspberries come to an end, cut the fruiting stems to ground level. Lift and pot strawberry runners. If you’ve got espaliered apples or pears, prune to allow sun to ripen the fruit. Sow carrots, lettuces, winter spinach, radishes and turnips now. Stay on top of weeding (a little and often), and keep to your watering and feeding routines. High potash feeds are good for tomatoes and fruit trees.
Stay on top of weeds
Use a Dutch hoe, weed slice, hand trowel or fork to keep pesky weeds at bay to weed a little and often. Don’t forget to weed tubs and containers as well as beds.
Keep an eye out for pests
We’re talking slugs, snails, beetles, vine weevils and co; use pest controls if necessary. Companion planting in the veg patch can help: marigolds deter white fly and attract ladybirds to scoff aphids; nasturtiums can attract Cabbage White butterflies away from brassicas (put nets over them to stop them laying eggs on the leaves).
Look after your lawn
Mow regularly but keep your blade setting high to maintain moisture and nutrients. Apply a high-nitrogen lawn feed to keep grass lush and thick. Water occasionally but thoroughly, so water reaches the roots. Think about using a watering/sprinkler system if you’ve got a large garden.
Care for wildlife
Warm weather can harden the earth making it trickier for birds to find worms, so put out high protein foods like sunflower seeds and make sure clean water is available. As summer progresses, slow down on deadheading roses to allow rose hips to develop and provide food for birds later in the year.
Collect seeds from the likes of aquilegia and nigella to grow next year. Given the heat wave we’ve just had and maybe more to come, think about introducing some heat-loving, drought-resistant plants – like cannas, salvias and dahlias – to your garden. Consider installing a water butt to collect and recycle rainwater over the coming year.
If you’re going away
Just before you’re off, do a final weed, deadhead, pick (and eat or freeze) any ripened crops, mow the lawn, top up ponds/water features and water containers, fruiting crops and anything you’ve just planted. Move container plants into the shade. Use a timed irrigation system or bribe a neighbour to come in and water in exchange for flowers or produce.
Above all, enjoy your garden
It’s not too late to get that fire pit, bbq, hammock or garden suite you’ve been hankering after… is it?
There are Hillier Garden Centres all over the South of England, including in Bath, the recently refurbed Three Legged Cross near Wimborne and in Cheddar – where a 9-hole mini golf course will keep everyone happy while you browse – selling everything from plants, seeds and bulbs to tools, garden furniture and caring for garden wildlife. You can also buy online.