This unusually rainy spring and early summer probably won't last all season, so I know I'll be doing plenty of watering this month. That's especially true for everything in containers (except for succulents), and for annuals in-ground. I'll also be keeping a close eye on perennials and woodies I planted in this spring. But I won't make the mistake I see so many neighbors making - using a fine spray on the foliage, when deep watering of the root zone is what's needed. Oh, and hand-watering of lawns - really? Click here for more about watering without wasting water.
I'll confess that weeding is actually my favorite thing to do in the garden - so meditative! And I come by it honestly - my mother loved it, too. After she moved into a condo with a teeny-tiny yard, she used to beg me to drive the 100 miles north from Richmond just to do some weeding in my garden. Sure, Mom, go for it!
I DO prefer weeding in the morning before it gets too hot. I used to have to limit myself to no more than 30 minutes at a time - to save my aging back - but now that my own yard is downsized, I can weed the whole thing in under 30 minutes. (Though honestly, for this compulsive gardener there's not ENOUGH weeding to do, so I've adopted the gardens of two of my neighbors, and started weeding in front of the neighborhood community center, too. I can't stop myself.)
I especially like to weed soon after it's rained, because it's so much easier to remove the whole weed, roots and all. And if you don't remove the weed, well, what's the point?
This bed of petunias gets fed weekly and watered almost daily.
I'm feeding my annuals every other week and will continue through August. And one plant I'm feeding every single week is the hardy banana. Not that it needs it that often; I'm curious to find out how tall it can get. They're soooo dramatic!
Early this month I'll cut back my asters for the last time, to keep them shorter so they don't flop over. Ditto for tall Sedums like 'Autumn Joy.' Click here to learn how.
Prune Shrubs Soon
Early July is still not too late to prune spring-bloomers like Azaleas. If you wait until later in the month you might be removing next year's blooms.
I give a qualified "yes" to the question of whether it's okay to plant in July. It's okay ONLY if you'll be in town to water the new or recently moved plants regularly and carefully (or have somehow do it for you when you're away). As to how often, here's a guesstimate for newly planted plants in July: Every day for the first week or so, and every other day for another week, then weekly for the rest of the summer. That assumes there's insufficient rain, of course, but here's another caution: Quick thunderstorms don't count! In fact, showers don't count, either. Only long, steady rains soak deeply enough into the soil to replace the kind of direct-to-the-root-zone hand-watering that the gardener would do to prevent mid-summer plant death. A rain gauge is a fabulous aide in judging whether a precipitation event will replace a good watering.
Another tip for keeping newly planted plants alive in the hot sun is to provide some sort of shade for them, at least initially. I've used a sheet supported by lawn chairs and I’ve seen others use thick landscape fabric for this purpose. Whatever it takes, it’s worth trying to provide shade.