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How To Select The Perfect Christmas Tree

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Step 1: Choose the Right Tree
christmas tree with ornaments and lightsSelecting the perfect tree is essential when it comes to decorating for Christmas. Get the best tree you can to ensure it lasts and looks great the entire holiday season. There are a lot of Christmas tree options out there from which to choose. Here are some examples of the most common trees out there at hardware stores and garden centers.

  • Douglas Fir. These are the most common trees available. The trees are tall, slender and aromatic and their needles are short, soft and bluish-green. They need plenty of water to avoid shedding.
  • Scotch Pine. Another common tree type. Scotch pines are the #1 sold Christmas tree in the U.S. They have very sturdy branches and also retain their needles better and last longer than some species. Needles are dark green.
  • Blue Spruce. These trees have stiff needles that are a silvery green color. When watered adequately, these trees can last for a month and still look great.
  • Fraser Fir. An attractive tree with green-and-silver, two-toned needles with good needle retention. Often referred to as the “no shed” tree.

If you are cutting your own Christmas tree, there are likely many tree farms in your area that will allow you to choose a tree and cut it down yourself. If you’ll be cutting your own, be sure you leave the house with a hand saw, some twine, a blanket for when you strap the tree to your vehicle and some gloves to protect your hands.

If you will be buying a pre-cut tree, make sure it is freshly cut. Touch the needles and branches to see if a significant amount comes off in your hand. Lightly bang the base of the tree on the ground; if an excessive amount of needles falls off, the tree is not fresh. Test the limbs to see if they are sturdy enough to hold the weight of ornaments. Also, if the tree is fresh, you should be able to smell the tree’s fragrance easily. The tree should be a dark green color all over with no areas of brown needles. Check to be sure that the bottom of the tree trunk is sticky with resin. Needles should not break when bent between your fingers. As when cutting down a tree yourself, bring twine and a blanket for strapping the tree to the top of your car, if you don’t have a truck or similar vehicle with room to stow the tree for the trip to your home.

 

  • Step 2: Find the Right Spot

    Find the right location for your tree. A little forethought will help avoid any problems once you have your tree and start decorating for Christmas. Take the time to measure the dimensions of your room. Use a measuring tape to check the height, bearing in mind the dimensions of your tree stand. It’s a good idea to leave at least 6″ from the ceiling to the top of your tree. Don’t forget to ensure that the room is wide enough for the size of tree you want if you’re going to place the tree in a corner or alcove. Write these measurements down. Take your tape measure with you when you go to purchase the tree to be sure the Christmas tree you select will fit.

    When you get your new tree home, be sure to put it into a bucket of water as you prepare to erect it. Don’t place the tree in high-traffic areas where it could get knocked over by children or pets, or where your family could trip over tree light electrical cords. Trees are usually best placed in a corner or in front of a window for optimal effect.

    Safety Alert!

    Never place your Christmas tree near a heat source, such as a radiator or fireplace, as this can present a fire hazard.

    Helpful Tip

    Consider anchoring the tree to a wall with a thin rope or heavy-duty string and an eyebolt as an added safety feature to help stabilize the tree. You can use this safety feature and easily hide it so it doesn’t detract from your tree’s appearance.

  • Step 3: Give It Water

    Water your tree daily to keep your tree alive. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times. The average tree can soak up to a gallon of water a day. When choosing a tree stand, be sure to find out how much water the stand holds when a tree is in it. Consider using Tree Preserve, a water additive that extends the life of the tree, keeps it greener longer, and helps prevent the needles from drying out. Remember, a thriving tree stays green longer and it makes it less of a safety hazard, as water keeps the tree moist and more fire-resistant.

    Safety Alerts!

    A dry tree can be a fire hazard. Before stringing lights on the tree, make sure the bulbs and the light string itself is in working order and intact without fraying or tears. Use lights rated for indoor use only. Do not place the tree directly in front of a heat or air conditioning duct as this will dry out the needles faster.

    When the tree is plugged in, be careful when watering to avoid electric shock.

  • Step 4: Decorate It

    Decorate the tree the way you want. This is the fun part! When adding lights to your Christmas tree, work from the inside, close to the tree trunk and out toward the tips of the branches. When you reach the tip of a branch, wrap your way back toward the trunk. Mini lights and C7 Christmas lights are typically used to decorate indoor trees.

    Helpful Tip

    Consider using LED holiday lights. They’re more efficient than regular light strings and don’t put off as much heat.

  • Step 5: Recycle It

    Dispose of your tree properly after the holiday season—don’t just throw out your tree with the trash. Recycle or mulch it yourself. Many municipalities have recycling centers where you can take your tree or have it picked up for recycling. Check with your local officials to see what options are available.

    Happy holidays! With good care, a Christmas tree can easily stay fresh for a month or even longer.

 

Front Porch Ideas For Thanksgiving

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The great thing with Halloween and Thanksgiving in succession is that you can put up fall decorations for both occasions. In fact, with added garden lights and Hollies, it can go all the way until Christmas. Pumpkins and autumn plant colors also give a rustic charm to a Thanksgiving garden–which how this Holiday should always be through the years.

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Nothing says welcome to your guests better than a well-decorated front porch or door. Having some potted Chrysanthemums in handy for a quick and easy design will help.

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Keep the spirit of Thanksgiving in the air with a display of your garden harvests. Even dried up corn stalks can add to the feel of a good harvest this season.

VETERANS DAY EVENT!

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The Dreaded Spotted Lantern Fly Has Made It’s Mark On Our Area

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What To Do If You Find Spotted Lanternfly

What To Do If You Find Spotted Lanternfly

This insect is a potential threat to several important crops including grapes, peaches and timber trees. Many sites within the infested area have high populations of spotted lanternflies. Every landowner who effectively uses control measures will help to reduce the potential for this insect to spread to new territory.

Confirmed populations of the spotted lanternfly are known to exist in only the following Pennsylvania municipalities in the United States of America:

  • Berks County: Amity, Colebrookdale, Douglass, District, Douglass, Earl, Hereford, Longswamp, Oley, Maxatawny, Pike, Rockland and Washington townships and the boroughs of Bally, Bechtelsville, Boyertown, Kutztown and Topton.
  • Bucks County: Milford Township and Trumbauersville Borough.
  • Chester County: South Coventry Township.
  • Lehigh County: Lower Macungie and Upper Milford Townships, and the boroughs of Alburtis, Emmaus and Macungie.
  • Montgomery County: Douglass, New Hanover and Upper Hanover townships and the boroughs of East Greenville, Pennsburg and Red Hill.

If you find a spotted lanternfly in a municipality where it is not known to exist

You should try to capture it and put it into a vial filled with alcohol to kill and preserve it, or at least take a good picture of it. Report it to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) by emailing to: badbug@pa.gov or call the Invasive Species Hotline at 1-866-253-7189. Your discovery could add additional municipalities to the quarantined area.

If you find spotted lanternfly in a municipality where it is known to exist

You should try to kill it. This insect is considered a threat to crops and many people are working to try to prevent it from spreading. Soon the females will begin to lay eggs. Each female will lay up to 100 eggs or more this fall, so by destroying even one female, you are reducing the potential population for the future.

In the late summer and fall, the spotted lanternfly prefers feeding on Ailanthus altissima, commonly known as the “Tree of Heaven.” They can be found feeding on other plants and trees, but if you have Ailanthus altissima, you should start searching for spotted lanternfly on those trees.

Information on how to identify Ailanthus altissima and how to control it.

The spotted lanternfly is not known to bite humans. You can kill spotted lanternflies mechanically, by swatting or crushing them. However, when you threaten them, they are able to quickly jump far away from you, so mechanical control is not easy to achieve.

Are there any natural enemies of the spotted lanternfly?

Birds don’t seem to like to eat them, and researchers have not found predatory or parasitic insects that are making a great impact on the population yet. Over time, natural enemies often do find invasive insect species, but for now this does not seem to happening on a level that is making a difference.

Can you kill spotted lanternfly using pesticides?

In Pennsylvania, pesticide regulations require that a product may only be used according to the directions on the label. The label must list the site (or location) where a pesticide (in this case an insecticide) may be used. There are insecticides available with labels that list ornamental trees as an allowed site. It is legal to use them on ornamental trees, including Ailanthus altissima, to try to kill insects, including the spotted lanternfly. You can check at your garden center to see what they offer. Some of these products may be more effective than others, so you should take note if the product you tried works well or not.

Things to consider before you purchase an insecticide

In some infested properties there are thousands of spotted lanternflies and many of them are very high up in trees. It will be difficult to reach the insects with a small can of spray or even a backpack sprayer. In this case you might consider hiring a professional tree care service to do the application.

Also, when the canopy of a tree is sprayed, the insecticide can come into contact with beneficial insects including pollinators and other creatures. People are looking for more specific approaches to pest management to minimize off-target exposure. This type of strategy is known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM). The PDA has been using an IPM strategy for spotted lanternfly infestations, and landowners may consider using the same IPM strategy on their properties, or hiring a professional service to do it.

IPM strategy for the Spotted Lanternfly

  • Locate Ailianthus altissima trees on the site. For reasons not understood, spotted lanternfly seem to prefer some individual Ailanthus altissima trees over others. Try to identify the specific Ailanthus trees that are most attractive to the insects, based on how many are feeding on them.
  • Destroy approximately 90% of the Ailanthus altissima trees, leaving only a few that are most attractive to the insect. They will serve as “trap” trees. It is recommended that you try to kill all the female Ailanthus altissima trees, because they produce seed and contribute to the spread of this invasive tree.
  • Be careful handling Ailanthus altissima wood, leaves and branches. Chemicals in the sap of this tree can cause headaches, nausea and possible heart problems. Wear gloves and protect yourself from exposure.
  • When you cut down Ailanthus altissima trees, they will sprout profusely from the stumps and can grow back in a few years. Because they regenerate so easily, it is recommended that you treat the stumps with an herbicide to kill them and prevent them from sprouting new shoots.
  • Herbicides that are labelled for this use usually contain one of the following active ingredients triclopyr, dicamba, imazpyr or glyphoshate. Use the herbicide carefully and according to directions on the label. Alternative methods for using herbicides to kill Alianthus altissima trees include foliar sprays, basal bark applications and a method called frill application or “hack and squirt”.
  • The Penn State Extension publication– Herbicides and Forest Vegetation Management, has more information about these methods. Whichever method you choose, remember that you will have dead Ailanthus trees which may eventually have to be removed.
  • Treat the remaining Ailanthus altissima trees with a systemic insecticide that will move throughout the tree. The insecticide must be applied according to the label and at the right time of year for the trees to absorb it. When spotted lanternflies feed on correctly treated trees, they will die. Systemic insecticides that are labelled to treat ornamental trees usually contain the active ingredients dinotefuran or imidacloprid. The PDA is using dinotefuran in their IPM strategy.
  • Treating only a few trap trees with a systemic product can reduce the amount of insecticide released into the environment and may help conserve beneficial insects.

Avoid spreading the spotted lanternfly

Fall Clean Up Tips

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10 time-saving tips to give your backyard a head start on spring

Aaaah, autumn. The kids are headed back to school, the leaves are turning, and a chill is in the air. If you’re like most homeowners, fall also means an opportunity to spruce up your yard and cut down on the work you’ll need to do when the weather turns warm again.

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  • Rake those leaves. Once the snow flies, an unraked layer of leaves can get matted down over the turf and smother it all winter long. Raking or using a mulching mower in the fall helps avoid dead patches in the spring. But don’t worry about getting every last leaf, especially in the garden. They help insulate plants, and as they decompose, they provide valuable nutrients.
  • Feed the grass. Fertilizing in the fall is like a day at the spa for your lawn. Using a slow-release fertilizer allows the grass to soak up nutrients and – just as important – spend the cool days and nights of autumn recovering from summer heat and stress. And building a healthy, rejuvenated lawn is one of the best ways to protect against heat, cold, drought, insects and other stresses.
  • Weed all about it. Weeding in the fall is probably the most valuable thing you can do to prepare for spring, and it’s one that many people overlook. The good news: Pulling weeds used to be a backbreaking chore, but tools like the Weed Hound have come a long way from the tiny weeding forks of “the good old days.” There’s no reason to get down on your hands and knees and gouge at the turf. All you do is place the tool over the weed, step lightly on the footrest, and pull.
  • Pick up the poop. When the snow melts next spring, the last thing you want to see on your lawn is pet waste. Fall is the perfect time to get out there and clean up Rover’s little leftovers. Don’t look forward to getting on your hands and knees? Hire a neighborhood kid to do the dirty work, or invest in a long-handled pooper scooper.
  • Remove thatch build-up. A build-up of aboveground roots called thatch prevents sunlight, oxygen and moisture from getting to the nutrient-hungry soil below. But it’s easy to remove, especially if you don’t wait until it overwhelms the yard. Just go at the yard with a dethatching rake in early fall, or for an easier – but more expensive – option, rent a power dethatcher.
  • Aerate. Heavy use throughout the summer can cause soil to become compacted. Perforating your lawn with small holes helps reduce compaction and lets water, air and fertilizer get down to the soil, which strengthens the grass plant’s root structure. For smaller yards, a manual aerating tool that removes plugs from the turf while you step should be just fine. If you’ve got a larger yard, consider renting a power aerator.
  • Water trees and shrubs. Dehydration during the colder months is an all-too-common cause of tree damage, but it’s easily preventable. To sustain them over the long winter, it’s important to give trees a drink before putting them to bed. After they go fully dormant – but before the ground freezes – use a soaker hose or root irrigator to water them thoroughly.
  • Clean out your garden. Fruits and vegetables left in the garden can rot all winter long, and provide a comfy home for insect eggs. Gross? Not as gross as they’ll be in the spring. Now’s the time to get rid of diseased plants, too, but keep them out of the compost pile so the problem doesn’t spread to the rest of your garden next year.
  • Plant spring bulbs. Fall is not all about closing up shop. It’s also the perfect time to plant spring flowering bulbs like daffodils and tulips. But pay attention to the weather in your area; planting too early can cause bulbs to sprout before winter, and planting them too late can mean their roots don’t have enough time to develop before the ground freezes.
  • Give your tools a tune-up. When it comes time to put away the backyard tools for the season, don’t just shove them into the garage or shed. Spend a few minutes wiping them down and removing debris and dirt, then apply a light layer of oil to keep them from rusting over the winter. That way they’ll be all set to go again come spring.

How To Properly Close Your Pool For The Season

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The main purpose in winterizing your swimming pool is to protect it from damage due to freezing water. You also want to keep your swimming pool as clean as possible for the next season. Closing your swim pool properly can save you a lot of work when it comes time to open the above ground swimming pool for the summer.

  • The first step in the winterization procedure is to make sure your water chemistry is balanced. You should make sure that your pH, Total Alkalinity, and Calcium Hardness are all balanced. By balancing your water chemistry you are protecting the surface of the above ground pool from staining and etching. Adding a winterizing chemical kit to your water will help keep it blue and clear for the next season. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the kit.
  • Do not use a floater that contains a strong oxidizer (chlorine or bromine) as the floater will stick against the wall and stain and/or bleach your wall, especially a vinyl liner. For the same reasons DO NOT throw chlorine or bromine tablets into the above ground pool. They will sink to the bottom and damage your above ground pool’s surface.
  • When water freezes, it expands. This can cause great damage to your above ground pool, pool plumbing, and its filter system. If you are closing up your above ground pool for the winter, you should always take precautions to protect from freeze damage no matter where you live. You can never be sure that it will not drop below freezing, even in the Sun Belt.
  • Lower swimming pool water level below the mouth of the skimmer. This will get the water out of the throat of the skimmer which can be easily damaged if water were to freeze here.
  • Another option is to put an Aquador over the mouth of the skimmer. This is a plastic dam which holds out the water from the skimmer, allowing you to leave the water level up for the winter.
  • The water left in the pool, along with air pillow(s) will help in supporting your cover.
  • Drain all the water from your filter equipment and hoses.
    • Start by putting a plug in your return fitting (where water returns to above ground pool).
    • Disconnect your hoses from the return and skimmer or at the filter system and drain them.
    • The filter should have a plug at the bottom that will allow it to drain.
    • Put the multiport valve in the closed or “winterize” position and remove the pressure gauge.
    • Drain the pump by removing the drain plug(s). There may be two plugs to remove here.
    • After draining the pump, turn it on for a brief second to get the water out of the veins of the impeller. Do not run the pump more than a second or two because you can burn out the seal very quickly.
    • If possible take the pump inside to protect it for the winter.
    • If you have a chemical feeder, you should have let the chemicals (chlorine/bromine tablets) run out of your feeder so that no chemicals are left in it. Leaving chemicals in your feeder over the winter can cause damage to it and other equipment.
    • You will now be able to drain your chemical feeder.
    • If you put all the plugs that you have removed into the pump strainer basket, they will be easily found in the spring.
    • It is a good idea to take the pressure gauge inside for the winter because water collects in its tube which can freeze and cause breakage.
    • Do not put the plugs back on the equipment. If the equipment should get water in it, the plugs will prevent proper drainage.
  • The final step is to cover your above ground swim pool to keep out the debris.Solid covers keeps out all debris and sunlight. This will keep the pool totally clean and prevent most algae growth.

We Offer Professional Landscaping Services

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Landscaping Services

Landscaping Services

With Daniel’s Lawn & Garden Landscaping services we can help you create your ideal outdoor living space. Let our expert staff show you how!

Our Landscaping Service includes:

  • FREE ESTIMATES – CONTACT US TODAY
  • Residential and Business Projects
  • Creation and Installation of Garden Beds, Walls, Walkways, and Patios.
  • Installation of Trees, Shrubs
  • Grading, Seeding, and Installation of Lawns
  • Above Ground Pool Installation

We are ICPI certified, fully insured, and offer FREE ESTIMATES. References available on request.

PA Contractor License #PA013212

If you are interested in developing a ‘do it yourself’ project, then consider our new in-house landscaping design program. We’ll provide you with the guidance and direction to do it right the first time. Contact our staff to schedule a 30 minute in-store consultation. We also offer other home improvement project services…please inquire and we can help you with your needs.

Our landscaping services are available throughout Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Lehigh and Berks Counties and not limited to the following areas: Harleysville, Skippack, Trappe, Collegeville, Perkasie, Souderton, Telford, Vernfield, Schwenksville, Red Hill, Green Lane, Pennsburg, Sellersville, Dublin, and Quakertown.

Our finished project gallery will be available on our website in the near future.

Butterfly Gardens!

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Make your yard butterfly-friendly to bring color and movement to the landscape while aiding the pollination of flowers, fruit, and vegetable plants.

Unfortunately, urbanization and other development are shrinking butterflies’ natural habitat, leaving fewer places to feed, mate, and lay eggs. Here are some tips to reverse that trend.

  • Butterfly gardens don’t have to be large. You can grow plants in containers on a patio or even in hanging pots and window boxes.
  • Butterflies need the sun to maintain body temperature, so place your garden in the sunniest location possible.
  • The key to attracting butterflies is to provide them with lots of nectar sources; they also prefer to feed on open, tube-shape flowers. See our article on Plants that Attract Butterflies.
  • All butterflies start out as caterpillars that require host plants on which to feed. Many of these are native plants—weeds and wildflowers that may already be growing on or near your property. Some good choices include clovers, milkweeds, and violets.
  • After a rain, you may see butterflies congregating around a puddle or damp area in the garden to drink and extract minerals from the soil. Maintaining a puddle in the same spot will keep butterflies coming back.

Butterfly in the Garden

Butterfly gardening has become big business. Butterfly farms offer live butterflies to release at special occasions, especially weddings.

August Gardening Tips

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Temperatures Soar and Color Sizzles

Some plants thrive as summer heats up. If your perennial beds lack color, try a few of these plants that flower through sweltering August afternoons. All are drought-tolerant once established.

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.) brightens the garden with cheery yellow blooms perfect for cutting. It’s a good choice for a wildlife garden. Flowers beckon butterflies; seed heads are a goldfinch favorite.

Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) unfurls silvery foliage accented with lavender blooms. Plants are deer-resistant.

Threadleaf tickseed (Coreopsis verticillata) opens daisylike blooms in shades of yellow, white, or pink. Low-maintenance plants have fine foliage and open flowers steadily until frost.

Yarrow (Achillea) sounds a steady note of drought-resistant color in the summer garden. Look for flowers in many shades, from white, to red, to peach, to yellow.

Test Garden Tip: Even the most reliable summer bloomers stage a stronger show when you faithfully remove faded flowers.

August Watering Tips

Water plants a few hours before applying pesticides, especially during times of drought. In these conditions, plants have less water in tissues, and as pesticides enter cells, they may burn leaves.

Avoid watering during midday, when more water will evaporate than soak into soil.

It’s not uncommon for plants to wilt on hot afternoons even though soil has adequate moisture. The wilting occurs because plants are losing water faster than their roots can absorb it. Leaves should revive by early evening, after the sun is no longer directly on leaves. If not, water deeply.

Some shrubs need weekly deep watering now. Rhododendrons are beginning to form flower buds for next year’s show, and adequate water is vital. Fruiting plants, such as hollies and firethorn, need water to ensure berries mature and don’t drop.

Test Garden Tip: Water newly planted trees, shrubs, and perennials — any plants you added to your yard last fall or spring. These plants need weekly irrigation to ensure roots establish deeply.

Garden-Fresh Flavors from the Herb and Vegetable Garden

Peppers: Pick peppers at any stage of development. The longer fruits stay on a plant, the more intense flavor becomes — sweet peppers grow sweeter, and hot peppers develop a stronger burn.

Herbs: It’s best to pick herbs before they flower. Harvest herbs on a dry morning, after dew has dried. The exception is mint, which you want to pick at midday, when essential oil concentrations in leaves are greatest. Avoid harvesting herbs following a rain, when foliage is wet.

Tomatoes: Even though tomatoes continue to ripen after picking, fruits develop greatest flavor when allowed to ripen on plants. The exception is cherry tomatoes, which are prone to splitting. Pick these tasty morsels as soon as fruits start showing color.

It’s Time to Stop…

Fertilizing roses. Stop feeding roses this month so that growth can harden sufficiently before killing frost arrives. This will help reduce the amount of winter kill.

Pruning evergreens. As August arrives, put away the pruners as far as evergreens are concerned. If you prune now, you risk plants pushing new growth, which won’t harden off and will be killed during winter’s chill.

Ignoring zucchini. Daily inspections of squash vines are a must. In August heat, small, tasty fruit can transform into inedible baseball bats overnight.

Composting weed seeds. Unless your compost pile gets hot enough to kill seeds, it’s best to destroy weeds with seed heads. If your town has a community composting facility, place seedy weeds at the curb. The community compost will be hot enough to kill seeds.

August Garden Chores for the Northeast

Pull annuals that are past their prime and aren’t likely to recover. Cover bare soil to deter weeds.

Take cuttings of plants you want to overwinter. Choices may include fuchsia, scented geranium, coleus, or wax begonia. Stick 3- to 4-inch green stem cuttings in soil. Place pots in a shaded spot, and keep soil moist.

Make sure mower height is raised so you’re cutting grass higher. When grass is taller, it shades soil beneath, which reduces water evaporation from soil. Taller grass generally has deeper roots, which helps it withstand drought better.

September is peony planting time. That means August is the month to order peony roots. You should have peonies in the ground about a month before the average first frost date.

Gardening Tips For July

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Gardening in July: This is one of the most productive months in the garden, but there’s still time to plant and plenty to enjoy

Perennials

  • Keep up with deadheading bedding plants, sweet peas and roses. The flowers on dahlias will need to be cut off once they’ve started to fade.
  • Many of the traditional English cottage perennials such as lupins, delphiniums and geraniums are starting to look past their best now so cut them right back down and they’ll resprout. They may not flower again but they’ll look a lot better.
  • delphiniums in a garden
Fruit and vegetables
  • Water and feed everything regularly, especially tomatoes, to avoid problems. Also tie them in to their canes and pinch out the side shoots if necessary.
  • The last sowing of French beans and carrots can be done now. Transplant purple sprouting broccoli and winter leeks to their final position, or buy them as plugs from a garden center or nursery.
  • Keep sowing seeds for salads, a few at a time, as well as autumn crop peas, turnips and spring cabbages.
  • Keep an eye on apples and plums to make sure there are not too many on each stem and thin out if necessary – just three or four is enough.
  • There should still be some strawberries ripening. Check there is enough straw under the plants to keep fruit off the soil. If you’ve been pegging down the strawberry runners, by now they should have formed enough roots to enable you to transplant them, either to pots to keep safe until they can be put in the ground, or straight into a new strawberry bed.
courgettes - nice ripe Zucchinis growing over garden fence

Harvest

  • Strawberries and other soft fruit should be ripe and ready to collect now.
  • Pick and freeze or dry herbs so they can be used later.
  • A lot of the earlier-sown vegetables will be ready in July, for instance peas and broad beans, French and runner beans, globe artichokes, carrots and beetroot.
  • Keep an eye on fruit; cherries, peaches, gooseberries, raspberries and early plums are really starting to ripen.

Watering

  • This is something that’s easy to do, but easy to get wrong, and often the main problem is under watering. If you spray an area of planting for one minute and move on, the water is unlikely to have gone deeper than a few millimeters into the soil, so won’t have penetrated anywhere near the roots.
  • You need to water like a rain cloud. One way to test this is to put a jam jar in among the plants you’re watering and stop when there’s about 2cm of water in the jar. That’s likely to take about 10-20 minutes on each area, which is understandably daunting. It’s one of the reasons why leaky hose systems, which deliver water to the soil via a porous hose and operate at the turn of a tap, are so appealing.
  • It’s a good time to get rid of strongly growing perennial weeds such as ground elder and bindweed. Use a systemic weed killer such as glyphosate that will enter the weed through its leaves and should kill it off.
Planting trends from the Chelsea Flower Show 2017

Roses

  • July in rose-growing circles is known as the month for black spot. If you find it, remove the affected leaves and spray the plant with fungicide. The same goes for another fungus, mildew, which can also become a problem in July if the roses are stressed by having too much or too little water. Try to spray the fungicide early in the morning so you don’t affect any bees that might be buzzing around the plant. Finally don’t forget to deadhead the roses to keep them flowering.
Pink rose flowers in a garden

Roses are the epitome of summer but check for pests and diseases in July

Lawn

  • Keep mowing the lawn if it’s not parched and, if it’s looking tired, July is the last opportunity to apply a summer fertilizer. If it’s dry you may need to water your lawn. Use a specialist lawn weed killer if necessary.

Hedges

  • If you have a conifer hedge, especially a leylandii one, keep a close eye on it at this time of year for cypress aphids. It’s difficult to see the aphids themselves so look for brown patches in the hedge and a black sooty mold along the stem. If you find it, the best thing to do is prune out any brown shoots and spray affected areas with pesticide.

Deadheading bedding plants and border perennials is important to keep your displays looking fresh and tidy. Get more flowers in borders, containers and hanging baskets by adding a liquid feed once a week.

IF YOU ONLY DO ONE THING…

…Go into borders, lift leaves and have a look around. Often it’s not a good idea to go looking for problems, but in the garden it pays to have a rummage, as the fresh growth of the past months can hide and feed pests, and weeds can grow unseen under it.