July In The Northeast: Regional Gardening To-Do List

July In The Northeast: Regional Gardening To-Do List

By: Amy Grant

By July in the Northeast, the gardener might be thinking their work is done…and they would be wrong. The Northeast gardening to-do list is year round and there are plenty of July garden tasks to get cracking on.

July in the Northeast

By June, pretty much everything that needs to be planted has been and spring bloomers have been pruned back, so it might seem like a good idea to hang up the garden gloves, sip some ice tea and watch the garden unfurl. There are still lots of July garden tasks to be accomplished.

Weeding, of course, is never-ending, but to minimize having to hand pull weeds if you haven’t already done so, now is the time to mulch. Add a thick 2- to 3-inch (5-7.6 cm.) layer of mulch around your plants. No need to weed first – just lay the layer over top of the weeds. The thick mulch will smother them. Yet, another bonus to mulching is keeping plant roots cool and retaining moisture.

Northeast Gardening To-Do List

Now that the mulching has been accomplished, it’s time to tackle other July garden tasks.

  • If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to check on automatic irrigation systems. If you don’t have a sprinkler system, consider installing timers. Also, capture that rare rainstorm by purchasing a rain barrel. On the subject of irrigation, use a soaker hose to slowly and deeply water trees every other week if there is little to no rain.
  • Another task on the Northeast gardening to-do list is to prune back climbing roses after the blooms have faded. Pinch your mums back every 10 days or so until the middle of the month. Also, bearded iris should be divided in July in the Northeast.
  • Keep flowers blooming by deadheading and fertilizing. Plant gladiolus up until the middle of July. Divide Madonna lilies as soon as they are done blooming. Oriental poppies can only be moved in the summer and July in the Northeast is a good time to do it. Dig up the roots and cut into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces and replant.
  • Cut back delphinium when done blooming and give them a dose of complete fertilizer to induce a second bloom. Prune wisteria and deadhead daylilies.
  • If yews and hedges need pruning, now is the time to tackle them. After mid-July, abstain from using electric shears and only judiciously prune with hand clippers.
  • Fertilize zoysia lawns but wait to fertilize other types of turf until Labor Day.
  • Keep tomatoes regularly moist so the plants don’t get blossom end rot and keep an eye out for hornworms.
  • Use your herbs! Some herbs get hard and woody if not cut frequently or bloom, which affects the flavor of the herb.
  • Thin fruit from trees to foster larger, healthier produce.
  • Side dress veggies with a nitrogen rich fertilizer. Harvest mature vegetables. Believe it or not, one July task is to sow veggies for a fall crop. Sow seeds for broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuces, peas, radish, kale, and spinach.
  • Keep the compost pile turned and moist and continue to add to it.
  • Save your berries! Fertilize and cover blueberries with netting to protect them from birds. Trim runner growth from strawberries so more energy will go into producing berries. Remove the fruiting canes from raspberries after harvest.

And you thought July in the Northeast was going to be a time of relaxation!

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The Tasks and Garden Chores for February

Even though it may still be cold, damp and miserable outdoors,
an occasional dose of sunshine could certainly put the gardening bug into you.
With a little luck, Mother Nature will send a few blossoms your way this month.

We are now at a time when we can no longer put off those garden projects,
waiting for a nice day.
Don't be caught off guard though, winter is far from being over!
If exceptionally cold weather is forecast, provide protection for early flowering
or tender plants by covering them with some type of cloth material.

These ideas area based on my cold-climate zone 6 garden.
Last frost is usually in April. First frost is in November.

Here in southwestern Ontario, Canada, July marks the peak of summer. Our gardens are looking their best, and it’s time to enjoy them before the first inklings of autumn appear in August.

Planting, Sowing, & More

Where to begin? July is the time to be lazy and productive all at once!

  • Some houseplants enjoy summer outdoors. Just don’t let them scorch in the sun.
  • Veggies and fruits should be producing. Sow more starter plants and seeds for continuous harvests.
  • Remember to turn your compost pile (2x per week is ideal), to keep the microbes working.
  • Grow new plants from cuttings: see what you can propagate now.

Wild Things

  • Keep bird feeders and water feeders clean and filled.
  • Clean out nesting boxes between broods. But be sure you’re not disturbing an active nest.
  • Have your hummingbird feeders ready for the arrival of spring migrations.

  • Grow salad greens and other veggies and herbs can grow indoors all year-round.
  • Don’t neglect your houseplants. Do you know how to water them properly?

More Growing Ideas

Creative Projects

More Creative Ideas


Dream & Scheme

  • It’s time to get seeds for fall sowing:
    • Canadian Seed Company Directory
    • United States Seed Company Directory
  • Stock up on seed starter mix and organic container mix while shops still have it in stock.
  • Old watering cans make great containers and garden art.

Observe & Enjoy

You may not know it by the name phenology, but you certainly know what it is. Phenology is the science of observing annual first events in nature. When flower buds open. When peepers first peep. When bees appear. When migrations arrive. When bulbs pop up. The list is endless.

Seasonal changes prompt natural responses in the plant and animal kingdoms. It is interesting to note these events and compare year over year.

Summer Phenological Events

Here’s a few examples you might notice.

  • Many plants are at their finest (here in southwestern Ontario).
  • Insect-mania! The food chain is going wild.
  • Birds may be raising second or third families of the season.
  • If rain is consistent, mosquitoes are out in full force. Bats will feast on them in the evenings.

Love time spent in the garden?

If this is your favorite time of year, take time to savor it!

Care for Vegetables

Keep your vegetable garden well watered during hot, dry spells. It's best to give most plants about an inch of water a week.

If you irrigate your vegetable garden, avoid doing so in late afternoon or evening. Give the moisture a chance to evaporate before the temperatures start to drop. Also: Avoid getting foliage wet whenever possible, especially on disease-prone species such as tomatoes and squash.

Don't allow vegetables to rot on the vines -- or fall off and decompose in the soil. Fallen fruit attracts pests and can harbor disease.

Pinch basil periodically if you don't harvest it weekly. Pinching keeps it from flowering and ensure you have a full, bushy-looking plant.

If you want fresh, baby potatoes, begin digging them when the plants start to produce blooms. Otherwise wait a little longer until the potato plant begins to turn brown.

If you see white butterflies are flitting among your vegetables, you'll soon spot green worms feasting on cabbage family crops (cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts). Treat plants with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a natural bacterium. Caterpillars consume Bt when they munch on treated leaves, and the bacteria kill them.

If you're dealing with flea beetles or Mexican bean beetles on vegetables, dust crops with a pesticide such carbaryl or spray an organic control like pyrethrum. Be sure to coat leaf undersides.

10 Tasks to Keep Your Summer Garden Singing

Summer is the time to enjoy the fruits of your spring labor and have fun in the garden. While you’re at it, keep up on these ten basic tasks and your plants will reward you by growing and blooming strong all the way through fall.

1. Water me, please!

As the summer heat settles in, the soil in your containers and garden beds will begin to dry out more quickly than it did in the spring. Keep a close eye on them to make sure your plants aren’t wilting between waterings. Those growing in full sun will need to be watered more frequently than those in the shade.

To know if your container plants need water, stick your finger one knuckle deep down into the soil. If it’s dry at your fingertip, it’s time to water. Be sure to direct the stream of water at the soil and not at the top of the plants so the roots can soak it right up. While you’re at it, clean and refill the birdbath. Birds need a steady supply of fresh water too!

2. Don’t let the weeds win.

It never seems to fail that the weeds grow faster than the pretty plants. Staying on top of them and pulling them before they spread is a season-long task, and summer is no exception. Catch them before they go to seed and you’ll have less weeding to do later. Be sure to look under your flowers’ leaves for low growing weeds that may be lurking underneath.

3. I’m hungry, feed me!

Annual flowers should be fed regularly throughout the whole growing season so they have enough energy to continue growing and producing flowers. We recommend feeding them with our water soluble plant food every third time you water. If you live in an area that experiences heavy summer rains, remember that nutrients are flushed out of the containers when they are flooded with water over an extended period. Feed them again once the rain has passed through.

Perennials and shrubs can be fed with slow release plant food twice per year in spring and midsummer. Stop feeding them by the Fourth of July to give the new growth time to harden off before the first frost. We often recommend Espoma’s organic plant foods specially formulated for roses, acid-loving plants and general perennials and shrubs for this purpose.

4. Watch out for garden pests.

Insects and four legged pests are active all summer long, so keep your eye peeled for any issues that might crop up. Some gardeners live and let be when it comes to garden pests like slugs, grasshoppers and Japanese beetles, while others choose to combat them. It’s up to you how you want to manage your garden. Some draw the line at petunia budworm, which can devour an entire plant’s flowers in a very short amount of time. Here’s an article and video about how to combat that specific pest.

Summer is a good time to reapply any animal repellants you put out in spring. By now, most of the product you applied then is gone and your plants have grown much larger. If deer are an issue, be sure to spray the repellent higher up on the plant to get it closer to the nose of the deer. Granular repellents can be sprinkled around the base of your plants to ward off rabbits and other short four-legged pests.

5. Remove spent perennial blossoms.

Since the majority of Proven Winners annual varieties are self-cleaning, you won’t need to spend your time picking off the faded blossoms. But many types of perennials are commonly deadheaded, meaning their spent flower stems are trimmed off, to encourage rebloom and tidy up the plant’s appearance.

For example, dianthus (like Fruit Punch ® 'Sweetie Pie', shown here) benefits from having its spent flowers sheared after the early summer flush. This makes it look neater, exposes the pretty foliage, and encourages the plant to rebloom again in early fall. Deadhead it by using shears to trim the flower stems down to the top of the mounded foliage. ‘Cat’s Meow’ catmint can be sheared the same way and will result in summer rebloom.

Similarly, the spent flower stalks of daylilies, goatsbeard, coral bells, hostas, daisies, bee balm, salvia, phlox, and spike speedwell can be removed to improve the plant’s appearance. In some cases, it will encourage the plant to rebloom. If you want the ornamental seed pods to develop on Decadence ® Baptisia, do not cut off the spent flower stems, since the pods will develop right where the flowers were.

6. Support leaning plants and vines.

By now, your plants have grown much taller and might be starting to lean over on their neighbors. That’s OK, we all need a little support from our friends now and then. But if they are leaning to the point where their stems might break, or they are smothering nearby plants, it’s time to stake them up. A wide variety of support cages, poles, rings, and the like are available at local garden centers. You might also need to add more support for climbing vines that have already reached the top of their trellis. Garden twine comes in handy for this purpose. (Shown here: 'Sweet Summer Love' Clematis)

7. Mulch getting a little thin?

Sometimes finely textured mulches break down before the season is over and need to be reapplied in summer. Mulch keeps the plants’ roots cool and retains soil moisture, which is important to keep your plants from getting stressed in the summer heat. It also covers bare ground where weeds might otherwise try to sprout. You may need to pick up a few more bags of mulch to fill in any bare spots to make it through the season.

8. Add a pop of color where its needed.

No matter how many plants you pick up at the garden center in spring, it seems there’s always a spot or two in the summer garden where you need a little more color. Maybe it’s in your shrub border which was gorgeous when it bloomed in spring, but now will be all-green for the rest of the season. Or maybe you have an empty spot in a container where a cool season annual has finished blooming. Whatever the reason, company is coming and it’s time to spruce things up a bit.

When choosing plants to add to the summer garden, consider adding heat tolerant varieties like the Toucan ® cannas you see here. They will have a better chance of getting established in the hot summer months. Be sure to keep them watered in the first few weeks while they are getting settled into their new home. You’ll find ideas for what to plant in summer in this article.

9. Take pictures of your garden.

Be proud of your work and show it off! Your friends and relatives will love seeing pictures of your garden on your Facebook and other social media pages. It’s a fun way to share a bit of yourself with others.

Photographing your garden has another very practical use—it helps you remember what you loved about your garden this year. Next spring, when you want to plant those gorgeous porch pots just like last year, you’ll know exactly what you planted because you’ll have documented it in photos. You can also take pictures of the parts of your garden that need a little sprucing up and refer to them when you are shopping at the garden center this summer.

10. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and share it with others.

Summer is the ideal time to kick back and enjoy the beauty you have created in your outdoor living spaces. Take a nap in the shade of the trees and when you’re done, invite your neighbors over for a backyard barbeque. Play some lawn games while you’re at it. Relish your time in the garden while you can. Winter always comes too soon.

19 garden mirrors for your outdoor space

If you're looking for a small garden mirror, we quite like this elegant arched design with a vintage, antique look.

This tall, gothic-style garden mirror ticks all the right boxes. Elegant and timeless, it will enhance your outdoor space.

Finished in a contemporary dark blue and grey hue, this garden mirror looks super stylish and practical, thanks to the shutter-style doors.

The metal arch and stone effect finish on this garden mirror will complement any outdoor space, giving your garden the wow factor.

Boasting a sophisticated and contemporary style, the Fulbrook garden mirror features a distinctive window pane, perfect for every outdoor space.

Want to bring Gothic or renaissance luxury to your garden? We love the peaked design of this bronze outdoor mirror.

One of our favourites, this impressive large arched garden mirror is frost protected to withstand any weather. We love the black metal frame that's lightly distressed in gold leaf. It's striking and will create a real statement.

Bring the luxe factor to your outdoor space with this chic garden mirror. The gold, lightly antiqued finish will weather over time to exude a rustic charm.

This rectangular glass garden mirror is a modern choice. With bold, clean lines and a black finish, this will suit contemporary outdoor spaces.

Looking for a garden mirror with some wow factor? Look no further. This sunburst design is sure to create a stunning focal point. Bold yet elegant, the antique gold finish makes this ideal for a contemporary or boho-themed garden.

This lovely, traditional style garden mirror adds depth, making it appear bigger than it is. It gives the illusion of an open pair of windows.

Manufactured from steel and with a waterproof backing, this stylish garden mirror is able to withstand the elements. Finished in cream weatherproof paint, it'll complement any rustic garden setting.

With intricate tracery, this gothic stone, metal framed mirror has a backing suitable for the British weather. The form and design is reminiscent of a classic church window.

This window-style outdoor mirror will create a sense of light and space in your back garden, especially smaller ones. To create an authentic aged appearance, the continental-style wooden shutters have been painted and weathered.

Switch things up with this bronze acrylic garden mirror, perfect for adding some light and space into your garden. This mirror is stronger yet more lightweight than glass, so is safer in busy outdoor spaces.

Enhanced with a weathered effect, this charming garden mirror will work well in most outdoor settings.

Create a statement with this white arched garden mirror, made from strong metal.

This delicate wrought iron style garden mirror, designed to look like a garden gate, is made with a sturdy metal powder-coated frame to help make it resistant to rust and corrosion. The shatterproof acrylic mirror is a safe alternative to glass.

If you like the rustic, antique look, choose this decorative arched design finished in a neutral cream hue.

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