Summer jobs

Summer is here, and although June started and ended a bit wet us gardeners remain cheerful for a beautiful summer don't we?!

To keep your garden beautiful, these are my top jobs for the summer. 

Job 1 - Prune Late Spring-flowering Deciduous Shrubs

Summer's the time to prune late spring-flowering deciduous plants such as Forsythia, Philadelphus, Deutzia and Jasmine. This promotes new growth, makes them tidier and has the added benefit of an even better display of flowers next year. Trim back as soon as the flowers have fallen, but leave any hard pruning until later in the year.

Job 2 - look after your lawn 

Be aware of dry weeks that can affect your lawn. In dry weather, raise the mower blades slightly as longer grass stays greener. You can also cut without the box, as the clippings will help retain moisture. 

A good soak of water every so often is better than a bit of water every day, as it encourages deeper growing roots and more drought-tolerant lawns.

Late summer is the time to scarify the lawn and also hollow-fork tining (or creating lots of small holes) to relieve the compaction caused by constant walking over it.

job 3 - weed, weed, weed

Time to keep on top of those weeds! 

For manual weeding choose a dry day with a light wind so that the weeds don't re-root in moist soil. Run a hoe over a bed or between rows to kill most weed seedlings. Pull up annual weeds by hand before they set seed. Perennial weeds should be dug out with as much root (or bulb) as possible.

To make life easier invest in a weed knife with a hooked end, great for weeding between paving slabs and path edging. Other tools are available for specific weeding jobs such as digging out dandelions.

To minimise your weeding, invest in bark chippings once the weeds are clear. It's well worth the investment for the reduction in workload!

Job 4 - dead heading

Dead-head your roses if they are repeat-flowering types. Opinions vary on this. I use a simple method that the RHS advocate. Gently snap off the faded flowers, breaking the stalk just below the head (rather than cutting just above a leaf). This method results in more blooms more quickly on repeat-flowering varieties.

Dead-head and cut back oriental poppies after flowering. To keep them looking neat, clip or pinch off the spent blooms one at a time above the leaves, so you don't leave a bare stem. Don't pull or tug on the stem. Later, cutting them back close to ground level will stimulate new foliage. For more poppies next year, retain the seed heads for longer and sprinkle the seed in the areas where you'd like new plants.

Foxgloves also need dead-heading and cutting back before the seeds spread into areas of the garden you don't want them!

job 5 - get composting

The garden is full of growth and the lawn is being cut so there's lots of material for composting. Make sure that you fill your compost bin with an equal volume of nitrogen-rich material (grass clippings, manure, shrub prunnings) and carbon-rich material (flower stalks, shredded paper, woody clippings).

For compost fast, the secret is to turn the contents of your bin once a week. You should have compost within 10 weeks this way.

When you add grass clippings, add a spadeful of soil too. This speeds up the composting process.