by Ken Lain, The Mountain Gardener, Watters Garden Center
July is the ideal month to add a shade or fruit tree, a berry plant, summer flowering shrubs and perennials to the landscape. Plants root quickly in the warm summer soil.
With the arrival of monsoon rains, plants thrive even more. The increased humidity and shade from a cloud floating over the head are a relief to you and your plants.
This is the best time to add summer- blooming perennials to garden containers and flowerbeds. Perennials are those flowers that come back every year bigger and bolder than the last.
PLANT FOOD HELPS
This is the month to push new growth from the leafy deciduous plants in the yard, especially those damaged by thrip, aphids and wind. By the end of July, feed everything in the yard.
Spray bug control right away to keep the grasshoppers knocked down. Powdery mildew and flea beetles also become bad this month. Deal with problems in the yard early.
HARVEST, REPLANT VEGETABLE GARDEN
Lettuce, spinach, and spring greens have been harvested regularly for several weeks, now they look tired from the summer heat. It’s time to remove these plants and add them to the compost pile. After loosening the soil, you can plant other heat-loving crops.
PRUNE LATE SPRING BLOOMING SHRUBS
Lilac, forsythia, quince, rhododendrons and the other spring-blooming shrubs have been spectacular this spring, and it’s time to prune, setting the stage for next year’s bloom. Start by removing spent blossoms and seed heads on lilacs. Cut back any dead wood and thin shrubs as needed. Do not remove more than one-third of the shrub in any given year.
WEED AND WEED SOME MORE
Spurge, purslane, bindweed, thistle, goathead, horehound — sigh! These weeds rob treasured plants of the water they need during the summer heat. Go out early in the day to enjoy cooler temperatures while doing this essential task.
CHECK IRRIGATION SETTINGS
In most seasons, the water budget feature on the irrigation controller is used. This allows adjustments to all water stations at once. July is a great time to recheck your water budget percentage to ensure your controller is 100% or greater. When cool evenings return in autumn, you can dial back the budget again. Water early in the morning so your plants are hydrated before the heat of the day.