Top 10 Things to Do in the Garden in July

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Top 10 Things to Do in the Garden in July

The blue skies and sunshine of summer may seem a long way off in the shivery depths of winter, for those of us who live in the colder parts of the country, at least. But why not put those days when it’s too wet or cold to go out into the garden to good use by making plans for your summer garden? Or better still, start working on that new paving area or pergola so it’s ready for spring. Now is also a very good time to move shrubs and trees while they are dormant, or to lay down mulch so the garden is in tip-top condition when growth starts to speed up. And there are plenty of crops that can go into the kitchen garden, provided Jack Frost is not too rampant in your area.

 

 
1. Do a site check

Winter is a good time to assess the bare bones of your garden and figure out how to improve it. With less foliage on trees and shrubs, you can see the structural areas more clearly and maybe start planning new projects such as terraces, water features, decks or pergolas to be built in time for spring.

Taking photographs of your garden allows you to analyse its flaws and attractions more easily. Take lots of shots and make use of rainy days to do an in-depth appraisal of what needs doing and when.

 
2. Transplant trees

You can also think about moving deciduous trees or shrubs while they are in their winter dormancy phase.

Tip: Stake young, newly-planted trees if you have a windy garden. Use three to four stakes and tie with hessian or an old stocking.

 
 
3. Freshen up outdoor furniture

Winter is a good time to refresh your outdoor furniture in good shape for summer. Outdoor furniture is exposed to the elements more than your indoor furniture so it pays to do some maintenance at least once a year.

Wash down chairs and tables with hot water and soap, oil hinges and check for broken fittings. If you find cracks in painted metal furniture, touch them up to avoid rust. Sand any rusty spots well and repaint.

Tip: Check out the winter sales for outdoor furniture, barbecues and other garden accessories.

 
4. Shop for cute stuff

With less to do in the garden, now is a good time to trawl secondhand stores, op-shops or online auction sites for outdoor accessories or unusual and interesting pieces, such as this gorgeous vintage urn, to use as focal points in the garden.
 
 
 
5. Keep sowing winter veggies

Where frosts are not heavy, you can sow winter vegetables including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, peas, lettuce, silverbeet and spinach seed directly into well-drained garden beds.

 
6. Grow herbs in containers

Many herbs will do better through the winter if grown in pots. Try this with coriander, mint, oregano, parsley and thyme.
 
 
7. Keep mulches topped up

In winter, while there’s less plant growth, it’s easier to spread homemade compost and other organic matter (pea straw, sheep pellets, stable manure) over bare areas in the garden. This will not only keep soil warmer during the colder months but will also give plants a good kick-start when spring arrives.

 
8. Prune roses

July is traditionally rose-pruning time. Pruning is a fact of life if you want healthy, nicely shaped rose plants that produce abundant flowers.

How much you prune (and how often) depends very much on the type of rose. Some, such as carpet roses, need the occasional light trim with the hedge clippers while hybrid teas and floribundas need regular pruning. Roses send out new growth after pruning so wait if severe frosts are still happening in your area.
 
 
Basic rules for rose pruning:
  • Use clean, sharp tools. Blunt secateurs and loppers can cause ragged cuts that encourage disease.
  • Start by removing old, diseased or spindly stems, then focus on shape. You’re aiming for a vase shape with no crowded, crossing branches in the middle of the plant.
  • Cut above a bud on the outside of the stem, sloping the cut away from the bud so moisture drains away from it.

 
9. Pick winter roses

If you’d like some flowers to pick from the garden during winter, consider planting Helleborus, also known as the winter rose. With their delicate blooms in jewel-like colours, these winter roses light up the winter garden and are a favourite with florists for their long life in a vase. Both flowers and foliage are attractive and they’re perfect for shady spots in the garden, particularly in warmer areas. Plant divisions of established Helleborus clumps or sow seed in early spring.

 
10. Plant asparagus

Winter is the best time for planting asparagus crowns. The deeper you plant them, the thicker their spears will be when ready to harvest, so dig trenches to around 15 centimetres deep.

Asparagus also likes well-drained, fertile soil. Before planting crowns, add plenty of well-rotted manure, seaweed and other organic matter as well as a little lime if your soil is very acidic. The pH should be six to eight, ideally.

Source: Carol Bucknell, Houzz New Zealand Contributor, Houzz