Garden expert Hilary Oakley from Oakley Landscape joins HouseFixer.co.uk for a monthly column on all things green and gorgeous.
It is known that George Washington never ceased sending home detailed instructions about his gardens at home while fighting the American revolution. He loved gardening and endlessly experimented with seeds, plants, shrubs and trees, developing an extraordinary knowledge of what to do when. I have found the same in my rather smaller garden at home and in my work as a landscape gardener, that timing is critical to success. What works in July one year won't necessarily work the next.
Some helpful tips for your July garden:
• Although we have had a lot of rain this year, keep an eye on your hanging baskets, pots and troughs. The canopy of the plants leaves means that rain often doesn’t get to the soil.
• If you have planted any new shrubs or trees it is really important to keep them watered. It is best to water in the early morning or the evening because water is lost to evaporation in the heat of the day.
• You should be cutting the grass every five to seven days. Cut on medium not on the lowest cut. If you cut too low you risk scalping the lawn and getting unsightly bare patches where you will get weeds. This will also help keep the grass looking good should we get any sun or drought conditions. The longer the blades of grass are above ground the longer the roots grow into the soil.
• July is a good month to take cuttings of container plants and semi - ripe cuttings of shrubs. Put the cuttings into a cold frame if you have one. Otherwise cover with a plastic bag to act as a mini greenhouse. When I’m pruning shrubs after they have flowered I’ll often keep some of the shoots as cuttings. It’s surprising what will grow.
Flowers and veggies:
• All flowering plants and vegetables will appreciate being watered with a liquid fertiliser high in potassium.
• Continue deadheading roses and summer annuals to encourage flowerings. As soon as perennials have finished flowering cut back their flowers to get a second flowering in late summer early autumn.
• Wisteria needs pruning in July for the main prune. It will need a light prune again in February.
• July is the time to sow spring and summer flowering perennials such as Lupin, Aquilegia Bellis, Scabiosa and Geranium. You can also sow biannual Foxgloves, Sweet William and Wallflowers.
• If you haven’t sown any vegetables yet there is still time. You can sow lettuce, spinach and runner beans. Also grow some herbs such as Basil and Parsley which you can use now and also bring indoors to use over the winter. Try planting herbs and vegetables mixed in with flowers. I often edge my flowerbeds with Spinach, Lettuce and Strawberry plants. I will put tall Tomato plants in the back of the border and trailing tomatoes in a hanging basket with lobelia.
• If you want autumn flowering bulbs July is the time to plant them
Experimenting is part of the fun as George Washington found.
Hilary runs a garden design and construction company Oakley Landscapes Ltd in London.
She is experienced in garden design and planting, with the business winning numerous awards including the national Marshalls' Best Patio Transformation 2010 and the 2011 regional Best Driveway award.
For more information contact 020 8286 2491 or email Hilary on firstname.lastname@example.org