July Gardening Tips


Smart Watering

  • Water early and late in the day to reduce water loss from evaporation
  • Adjust sprinklers to avoid wasting water on driveways and sidewalks
  • Water long enough to soak the top 8"- 12" of topsoil and stop watering if water is running off due to soil saturation
  • Measure sprinkler output with rain guages or tuna cans and apply up to 1 1/2" of water at a time
  • Use  mulch to retain water and keep roots cooler.  Bark, woodchips, gravel, compost or other materials are all beneficial
  • Install a rain sensor to automatically turn your sprinkler system off when it rains .

 Trees and Shrubs

  • Newly planted trees and shrubs are at greatest risk and need 1-2 good soakings each week. A 5-gallon bucket, slowly running hose, "leaky pipe" or soaker hoses laid up-side down and snaked under the branches,  or sprinklers adjusted to soak the area under the tree canopy are all good options.
  • Trees and shrubs planted in the last 3 years still need extra water during dry periods.
  • Established trees can also be under stress and benefit from mulch and watering.  Birch trees, sugar maples, and other trees native to cool forests suffer drought stress first but all trees benefit from water during hot ,dry periods.
  • Trees stressed from lack of water  are more susceptable to insect pests, winter injury, yellowing foliage and other problems that may not show up until several months after the dry weather.
  • Evergreen trees and shrubs won't wilt to indicate they are under water stress but need water as described above.



  • Established lawns, especially those started with seed, have the ability to become dormant without permanent damage.  Dormant lawns should not be watered to make them green up unless homeowners plan to continue watering until cooler, wetter, weather returns.
  • Lawns need 1" to 1 1/2" of water per week to stay green.  Its time to water when the lawn color turns to a green-bronze and grass blades don't spring back in your footsteps as you walk across the lawn.  Applying enough water to soak the top foot of soil benefits trees as well as lawns.
  • Raise your mower height to shade the grass crown and roots
  • Even dormant turf benefits from light watering during extended dormant periods to keep the grass crowns from entirely drying out.  Sprinkle long enough to apply 1/4"-1/2" once or twice a week.


Container Gardens and Hanging Baskets


  • Containers dry out faster than plants in the ground and sometimes need daily watering as plants grow larger and if the weather is hot and windy.
  • Hanging baskets dry out the fastest and frequently require daily watering.
  • Frequent watering to the point where water runs out of the drain holes in containers will leach out fertilizer and plants may start to have yellow or purplish foliage and fewer flowers.  It is a good idea to use a water soluble fertilizer at ½ the label rate every week to keep container gardens  and hanging basket plants growing and healthy.

 Fertilizer and Herbicides

  • Fertilizer and herbicide applications can burn lawns during hot weather. Best to wait for cooler weather in late summer and fall.


Flower and Vegetable Gardens


  • Annual and perennial flower plants are available at garden centers all summer and new plants can be added to fill in bare spots or add color at any time.  Add compost or peat moss to planting areas to help hold water and water new plants regularly until they are established.
  • Deadhead large flowered plants such as geraniums, daylilies and  lilies to prevent seed formation, encourage re-bloom and keep plants more attractive
  • Don’t allow weeds to go to seed.  Mulch  will help control weeds, keeps soil cooler and add organic matter to the soil as it breaks down.
  • Garden beds can be edged with a sharp spade or power edger. Grass can be prevented from creeping into gardens with a  carefully applied applications of Roundup herbicide. Roundup will damage any green plants and needs to be applied very carefully on a calm day.
  • Stake tall, floppy plants such as delphiniums, balloon flower and dahlias.
  • Monitor plants for insect pests such as aphids and control large infestations with insecticidal soap.
  • Don’t be afraid to cut flowers for indoor bouquets and arrangements.  Cutting flowers actually encourages re-bloom in some species.
  • Pick vegetables when they are at optimal size and maturity for best eating quality. Green beans, cucumbers and summer squash are best before they get too large.  Tomatoes will ripen off the vines but are best picked when fully colored but not overripe.  Green peppers may be picked at any stage but some will turn red if left for several weeks.

 Trees and Shrubs 

  • July is a good month to prune maples and birch and other trees that bleed when pruned in late winter
  • Both evergreen and deciduous shrubs may be shaped or informally sheared to keep plants full to the center and stay within available space.
  • Woodchip or bark mulch will help control weeds and gradually improves the soil as it breaks down.