Flower borders are billowing, crops are taking shape on the veg patch and summer is finally here! The experts at Robert Dyas share their green-fingered know-how to ensure gardens hit the peak of perfection in time for high season.
Feed hungry flowers and veg
Summer flowers and veg have an insatiable appetite – liquid feed regularly and you’ll be rewarded with an abundance of blooms and bigger, tastier crops. All-purpose feeds such as Miracle-Gro and Phostrogen work wonders on borders, pots and hanging baskets, while popular shrubs such as azaleas and rhododendrons that prefer acidic conditions will thank you for a helping of ericaceous food. For best results, liquid feed when the soil is moist, as nutrients won’t be lost in water run-off and roots can slowly absorb the goodness.
Boost tomato crops
Now that the risk of frost is over, tomatoes will grow at a rate of knots in garden soil and greenhouses. However, the heaviest crops are produced under cover where temperatures are higher and there’s a lower risk of blight – a disease that can strike plants during warm, damp, humid weather. If you don’t have a greenhouse (or there’s not enough space), a tomato grow house will transform your patio into a crop production factory, with easy-to-open panels helping to regulate temperatures and allow access to plants. For an abundance of sweet, juicy fruits, liquid feed regularly with seaweed extract-enriched tomato food – starting once the first truss of tiny green tomatoes has set on crops grown under cover, and once the second truss has set on plants growing outdoors.
Build raised beds
With grow-your-own soaring in popularity, raised beds are the answers to gardeners’ prayers. They warm up faster in spring, reduce the risk of damage from flooding and there’s less bending over to tend crops, which is great news for your back! Plus, raised beds – which are available in pressure-treated timber or made from recycled plastic – look picturesque in any garden setting, transforming unused areas or sections of lawn into productive kitchen gardens. Almost any edibles (or flowers) can be grown in raised beds, but they’re a winner for lettuce, radish, strawberries, carrots, tomatoes, onions, peas, beans, courgettes, sweet corn and herbs… the list is endless! The key to success is to fill raised beds with quality topsoil, site in a sunny part of the garden and water crops regularly.
Plant-up hanging baskets
Hanging baskets crammed with trailing fuchsias, ivy, geraniums, nasturtiums, pansies, busy Lizzies and petunias transform even the dreariest of walls into a feast of floral colour. Twelve-inch and 14-inch baskets are ideal and will need a sturdy wall bracket that can handle the weight. Hanging baskets dry out fast in summer, so place a plastic saucer in the base (it’ll reduce water run-off and act as a reservoir) then fill with a quality compost that’s formulated to retain water. After planting, set the basket on a bucket in a sheltered part of the garden for a week to allow plants to settle in, before hanging from the bracket. Wall baskets can take planting to new heights, too!
Drenching an entire flower bed when watering can be wasteful. Use a spray gun to aim the flow directly at the base of individual plants, allowing the water to soak in, then repeat. To cut down on time spent watering, consider installing soaker hose – porous hose that can be left permanently in-situ in flower borders and veg plots, secured in position using tent pegs. Once the tap is turned on, the hose will slowly deliver water precisely where it’s needed without any human intervention! If your patio is crammed with thirsty pots and window boxes, a mini hose reel or extendable hose is ideal for fast, hassle-free watering.
Secure plants with ties
Popular climbers such as clematis and passionflower will reach for the skies without assistance while the likes of climbing roses, sweet peas and even young runner beans may need a helping hand. Securing climbers and tall border favourites such as dahlias and sunflowers to canes, supports or trellis using garden wire or twine is a must in June, or plants can come a-cropper in breezy weather. Delicate stems can be held to supports using soft, twisty ties.
Create instant impact
Are your doorways, patios and decks lacking horticultural splendour? A host of instant impact shrubs – from stately box topiary to Mediterranean-style olives and good old fashioned hydrangeas – will grow happily in large containers. Water shrubs in their pots before planting and fill containers with John Innes No.3 compost. Consider galvanised planters for a contemporary, industrial-inspired look or a fashionable home farm kit planter to boost your home’s kerb appeal – the perfect setting to house specimen plants.
Install a rainwater tank
In the UK, heatwaves predictably end with a bang: thunder, lightning, and a torrential downpour. In April, we focused on water butts to capture the deluge, so why not take rainwater harvesting to the next level by installing a giant rainwater tank ahead of summer thunderstorms?