The summer gardening guide
It’s hard to find fault with an English garden on a sunny summer’s day. This is the time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the fruits (perhaps literally) of all your hard work since the winter. Our gardener’s calendar will help keep your garden blooming all summer long.
Off with their heads
Hopefully your flowering plants have put on a good show. But “dead-heading” can persuade many kinds of plants, such as roses, to bloom twice or more. Once flowers have died, dead-head plants by cutting off the old flower. You can do this for individual flowers – there is no need to wait for every flower on the plant to have died before you begin.
Keep your garden trim
Plants grow vigorously during the summer – including weeds. Stay on top by hoeing borders and beds and weeding regularly. Your lawn is also likely to be thriving. Patches of long grass can be attractive and add height to your garden, but to maintain lawn areas you will probably need to mow weekly. If the weather is very dry, reduce mowing and raise the height of your lawnmower blade to prevent damaging your lawn. Climbing plants will continue to grow throughout the summer. Add new stakes or climbing frames and tie up plants as they grow. This might seem fiddly, but it really does pay off. By giving them something to climb up, the plants will put more energy into flowering and less into searching around for a leg-up.
Summer is the time to trim hedges and shrubs such as box and holly. You may need to trim again later in the year to maintain their shape, especially for sharp-edged ornamental hedges – or that topiary poodle you’ve spent so long crafting.
Add more colour
Just when you thought your garden was looking immaculate, you spot a bare patch. Don’t worry. June is a great time to cram every available space and container with summer bedding (available pre-grown from supermarkets and garden centres). Pansies and marigolds are traditional choices, but there is a huge range on offer, from bold snapdragons to delicate lobelia.
It’s not just your garden that’s blooming – so is the plant-life in your pond. However, excess algae and pond weed can starve the water of oxygen. July is a good time to clear algae and weed from your pond. You should also keep an eye on the water level, topping up your pond if needed. Try to use rain water from water butts if possible. Tap water is high in nutrients, promoting algal growth – the last thing you want after a potentially smelly day cleaning out your pond.
The great getaway
If we’re lucky, most of us get to go away on holiday during the summer. But this means leaving our gardens untended. Hot weather and rampant growth might mean returning home to dead plants or a suburban jungle. Prevent this by arranging for holiday cover – a friend, neighbour or hired help – to look after your garden while you’re away.