July To-Do List

With summer in full swing, see what our savvy editors and contributors are doing in the garden this month.
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Stake Tall Flowers

It's time to stake floppy plants like delphinium and Veronicastrum.—Kim Visokey/Winnetka, Illinois


In my zone 5a, my heaver feeders—hostas, delphiniums, etc.—need another blast of fertilizer. Give 'em the final blast of nitrogen before you need to ignore them so they can harden off to survive the next winter.—Kim Visokey

Prepare to Divide Plants

I'll start observing which plants need to be divided in the fall—they'll be splayed open.—Kim Visokey

Visit Gardens

Visit every single possible garden you can for inspiration on new plant combos. I'll visit local public gardens and take part in the Garden Conservancy's Open Days program.—Kim Visokey

Chat With Fellow Gardeners

Learn from fellow gardeners—share plants, ideas, seeds, you name it!—Kim Visokey

Throw a Garden Party

Throw a great party and share the magic of your garden with others. Otherwise, what the heck are you doing?—Kim Visokey

Try New Plants

Set aside a section of your garden for exciting new plant trials. Test. Test. Test.—Kim Visokey

Go Wild!

Observe what native plants thrive in your local public gardens. Then bring home the right combinations to fit your garden.—Kim Visokey

Be Yourself

Most of all, don't covet other people's gardens. Just make yours the one that suits you, your budget and your idea of beauty!—Kim Visokey

Get Rid of Grubs

I'll sprinkle grub-preventative treatment on the lawn. (Or else.)—Kim Visokey

Pull Out the Soaker Hose

I'll be watering with a soaker hose to prevent evaporation in the hot summer air...if my county allows watering.—Lynn Coulter/Atlanta, Georgia

Add Mulch

I'll refresh any mulch that's getting thin around my veggies and flowers.—Lynn Coulter


Deadhead flowering annuals so they'll produce more blooms.—Lynn Coulter

Cut Faded Hydrangeas

I'll cut off faded hydrangea blossoms—but allow a few to remain, so I can use them later for fall arrangements.—Lynn Coulter


I need to remember I don't have to work in my garden all the time, and that I can take some time to just sit on the porch and enjoy my flowers.—Lynn Coulter

Save Water

Be mindful of watering needs of plants and follow any local water restrictions.—Melissa Caughey/Osterville, Mssachusetts

Install a Rain Barrel

Think about installing a rain barrel in the garden to help ease water usage.—Melissa Caughey

Clean Patio Furniture

Give patio furniture a good scrub down and freshen up the cushions.—Melissa Caughey

Weed Removal Continues

Weed out the gardens.—Melissa Caughey

Harvest Time!

Harvest the vegetable garden's bounty. Donate extra produce to local shelters or food pantries.—Melissa Caughey

Canning Prep

Stock up on canning supplies.—Melissa Caughey

Mosquito Control

Avoid areas with stagnant water and refresh the birdbath water frequently to keep mosquitoes at bay.—Melissa Caughey

Container Clean-Up

Freshen up summer containers.—Melissa Caughey

Tend the Fire Pit

Freshen up the outdoor fire pit and stack wood nearby for frequent refueling.—Melissa Caughey

Collect Honey

Check the honey collectors on the beehives for a spring harvest.—Melissa Caughey

Clean the Coop

Deep clean the chicken coop and run to help curtail issues with odor and flies.—Melissa Caughey

Compost Care

Till the compost pile.—Melissa Caughey

Watch New Plants

Young, shallow-rooted perennials in a new hosta and fern bed need plenty of water this first brutal July, but I am resisting watering too often—thanks to my thick bark mulch, all they need is a slow, deep soaking about once a week.—Felder Rushing/Jackson, Mississippi

Plant More Summer Veggies

Because of my long, drawn-out Southern summer, I am going to plant my fall tomatoes and peppers this month to grow sturdy and stocky in the heat for a heavy harvest in the shorter, cooler days of autumn.—Felder Rushing

Remove Spent Blooms

Potted flowers are leggy and floppy, and somewhat spent-looking. A light pruning on a few of them perk them up with strong new flowering growth.—Felder Rushing

Refill the Birdbath

I have to fill my birdbath regularly in mid-summer, not just to keep the birds, bees and butterflies happy, but also to prevent mosquito larvae from maturing into big biters.—Felder Rushing

Cannas Care

Cannas are hit hard by a leaf-chewing caterpillar. Rather than spray a lot, I just cut the plants back so new growth will come back quickly. A little garden statue keeps it interesting through the ordeal.—Felder Rushing

Adjust the Porch Swing

I redesigned my porch swing, raising its suspension rafter so I can use a longer chain – the better for a longer, slower swing, which is more relaxing while still keeping mosquitoes at bay (something about a moving target).—Felder Rushing

Make Pickles

With summer crops hitting full stride, it’s time to break out the brine and get canning.—Mick Telkamp/Raleigh, North Carolina

Plant Pumpkins

Fall seems so far away, but it’s already time to start planning for an October pumpkin harvest.—Mick Telkamp

Adjust Lawn Mower Blades

Keeping the grass a little longer in the hottest months helps keep the lawn looking green and healthy.—Mick Telkamp

Stake Summer Vegetables

Tying tomatoes and Brussels sprouts to stakes keeps me hopping in the vegetable garden. I also remove tomato suckers as soon as I spot them.—Julie Martens/Frostburg, Maryland

Cut Back Petunias

When July 4th festivities are over, I cut back my Supertunia hanging baskets, bringing stems into line with the bottom of the pot. Add slow-release fertilizer, water and wait for the next round of stunning blooms.—Julie Martens

Trim Fall-Flowering Shrubs

By mid-month I trim tall, late summer- and fall-flowering perennials like goldenrod, Joe-Pye weed and asters. A summer trim shortens the final flowering height and keeps me from having to stake tall stems.—Julie Martens

Cage Floppy Plants

Summer storms beat down perennials. I keep plenty of half-circle tomato cages on hand to hoist floppy plants.—Julie Martens

Watch Out for Beetles

I patrol the bean patch watching for Mexican bean beetles. They hang out on the bottom of leaves. I squish what I find—eggs, spiny larvae and adult beetles.—Julie Martens

Picking New Plants

I’m starting to finalize plant choices to replace perennials I lost during the hard winter. By this time, if perennials haven’t appeared, they aren’t going to. Time to go plant shopping!—Julie Martens

Summer Garden

Planting more vegetables and ornamentals on my patio. From left to right: hosta, spicy globe basil, serrano, 'Sun Gold' tomatoes, tiarella, hosta, diffenbachia, moonflower, chocolate mint.—Jessica Yonker/Atlanta, Georgia

Watch for Ants

There's a crazy ant colony living in the mulch in front of my patio. Hopefully they'll keep their distance from my plants and apartment, or else I'll have to look into destroying the anthill.—Jessica Yonker

Find Outdoor Furniture

I'm still on the hunt for patio furniture, and now I'm thinking I'd like to add an outdoor rug as well.—Jessica Yonker

Pulling Pansies

The lovely pansies I planted this fall are finally petering out. I have been reluctant to yank any lingering happy faces, but it may be time to make way for something new, like some silvery lamb's ears perhaps.—Felicia Feaster/Atlanta, Georgia

Creating Backyard Beds

All of my focus has been on my sunny frontyard, but it's time to give my sloped and shady backyard some love. I'm beginning to plant out beds and embracing the power of mulch to obscure large swaths of weedy wasteland.—Felicia Feaster

Grooming my Boxwood Ring

I've been trying to prune carefully to encourage the boxwood ring that circles my apple tree to finally close up, while staying neat and groomed.—Felicia Feaster

Welcoming New Apples

For the first time this year, my apple tree is producing fruit and I couldn't be more excited. Can't wait to start sourcing incredible apple recipes to one day make use of my apple windfall when harvest time arrives.—Felicia Feaster