What to do in the garden in June
When everything in your garden is blooming and the sun is out, it’s a wonderful time to relax and simply enjoy the garden. But a gardener’s work is never done, so here are some jobs to be getting on with once you’ve had your well-earned rest.
Trees and shrubs
If you planted trees in the spring, keep them well watered and add a layer of mulch around the base to help avoid moisture loss. Check that stakes on any young trees are securely in place, and remove stakes which are no longer required, usually three or four years after the tree was planted.
There are several pruning jobs to be done in June. Prune privet hedges and box plants. Deciduous magnolias should also be pruned now that they are in leaf, as earlier pruning can cause bleeding. Cut back spring flowering shrubs such as philadelphus and deutzia now so that they have time to produce enough growth this year ready for flowering next year.
Perennials, biennials and annuals
Finish planting out annuals, using spare plants to fill in any gaps in your borders. By now you should have plenty of flowers to cut for displaying inside. Sweet peas bring a wonderful fragrance to a room, and cutting the flowers has the added benefit of encouraging the plant to produce more blooms. Once clematis montana has finished flowering, cut it back hard. Tie in other clematis varieties and honeysuckle as they put on vigorous growth this month.
It may seem early to be thinking about next summer, but when you’re enjoying a wonderful display of colour next year, you’ll be glad you did. Sow aquilegia, delphiniums, foxgloves, lupins, scabiosa and sweet william in the greenhouse or indoors. You can also sow winter flowering pansies now to brighten up your garden later this year.
Vegetables and fruit
The soil is now warm so many vegetables can be sown in situ. Sow beetroot, carrots, cabbages, dwarf French beans, kale, lettuces, radishes, spinach, spring onions and turnips directly in the ground this month.
As strawberry plants start to produce runners, pot them up to allow roots to get well established before you plant them out or give them away to friends.
Pinch out the growing tips on aubergine plants once they reach about 20 cm in height, so that the plant becomes bushier and easier to support. Use tomato feed on chillies and sweet peppers as well as tomatoes to promote healthy growth. Cucumbers are sensitive plants and it’s important to avoid extremes of temperature and moisture in order to prevent cucumbers turning bitter. Water regularly, but don’t overwater, and if you are growing them in the greenhouse, open and close windows and vents as required to minimise temperature fluctuations. Remember if the weather is very hot, you may need to provide some shade in the greenhouse to protect plants from scorching .
By June all your hard work gardening in the colder months will be paying off, and you should be enjoying the fruits of your labours with a delicious harvest of salads, strawberries, peas, beans and more. There’s nothing more rewarding than tasting your first harvest of early potatoes – a sure sign that summer has arrived.
In dry weather you may want to water the lawn, but if a hose pipe ban is in place, or you prefer to cut down on your water bill, don’t worry if your lawn starts to look brown. Grass is hardy and will usually recover quickly once it rains. Rainwater from your water butt will be more urgently needed for your container plants, which will usually require watering both morning and evening in dry periods. If you have a period of extreme drought, where the lawn becomes dry and compacted, it’s a good idea to spike the lawn if you do decide to water it, so that the water can soak down to the roots more easily and not simply run off the surface. Avoid cutting the lawn when it is very dry as this will only cause more damage, and when you do need to mow, remove the clippings box and leave the cuttings on the grass, where they will help to reduce further moisture loss.
Other bits and bobs
This is a good time to create a covered area to provide more shade in the summer. On very hot days you may need more than just a table parasol to stay comfortable while eating outside. A quick, low-cost option with a contemporary feel is a canvas canopy. If you have a larger budget, there are numerous options available, from stylish retractable awnings to elegant wooden structures. A pergola will offer increasing amounts of shade as plants grow over it. Vines and other climbing plants such as roses or wisteria are perfect for creating a natural dappled shade.
If you already have a pergola, arches or other garden structures, check them for any signs of wear and tear, and repair as necessary. Apply a coat of wood preservative or metal paint to help keep them at their best.
Now is the time to plan ahead for when you go on holiday. Most plants in the garden will survive if you are away for a week or two in dry weather, provided you water them well before you leave. However, plants in containers and in your greenhouse will require regular watering. There are several ways of helping plants to survive in containers for a short period. You can add water-retaining granules to the soil, and they will release water gradually. Buy the granules well in advance of your holiday so you have plenty of time to incorporate them into the soil. Placing large trays underneath containers and filling them with water also helps to provide a source of hydration for longer, and where possible you should move containers into the shade. Taking these steps may be sufficient for a few days, but if you are going away for a week or longer, the best option is probably to ask a neighbour to come round to water plants while you are away. If you have plenty of vegetables ready to harvest by June, a neighbour will no doubt be more than happy to do some watering in return for a ready supply of vegetables from your garden.