The main tasks for this month are deadheading, watering and weeding, says gardening expert Andy Colquhoun. He also offers some advice on how to remove the dreaded ground elder without using toxic weedkiller.
July is the month of deadheading which will increase the length of blooms in the garden. Roses can be deadheaded now, and you don’t have to cut anywhere in particular. Cut off the dried flowers or seed pods. Perennial flowers that flower before the end of June, including baptisia, coral bells, oxeye daisies, nepeta, penstemon, peonies and salvia can be deadheaded. Alternatively, nepeta and penstemon and salvia can be cut to the ground.
If you have extra space or perennials that have flowered in spring and early summer, then try adding annuals to the area. They will give three or four months of colour. Add some time-release fertiliser in the area so they will automatically be fed for the rest of the summer.
Often the main problem is under watering - especially with the dry spring. If you water an area for a minute, the water is unlikely to go very deep - only a few millimetres. Water needs to be more consistently applied, like rain. As an indicator, try adding a jam jar in among the plants and stop when there is 2cm or so in the jar. This will be enough water to get down to the roots of the plants.
Weeds without the weedkiller
Ground elder is a herbaceous, invasive, perennial weed and spreads via rhizomes (horizontal underground root system with lots of nodes), which can regenerate from the smallest particles left in the ground. Getting rid of ground elder in a well-planted bed can be difficult. To get rid of it completely requires time and patience - and often a lot of toxic weedkiller.
If you’d like to try this without chemicals, lift any cultivated plants and carefully remove and destroy any pieces of ground elder rhizome from around their roots. After you are sure it has all been removed, replant your garden plants in clean soil or pots.
The ground elder can now be evicted by digging the area, or by covering the area with black polythene to starve the weed of light. It may take several seasons until the ground elder is completely destroyed.