Thin crowded fruit to prevent broken boughs and undersized fruits. Sow late-summer veg that bolts if nights are cold. Perk up the lawn, tame unruly shrubs and consider saucers to ease watering.
1. Fruit thinning
Promisingly thick crops of fruits can break overladen boughs, while congested fruits remain undersized. Removing surplus fruits from now until mid-July helps to avoid both outcomes. Leave one plum every 7cm, allow about 20cm for each cooking apple, and for smaller dessert apples thin to 10-15cm between each fruit or pairs of fruits. Either gently tug fruit from the boughs or snip with scissors. Spread the work over the next fortnight in case there is any natural fruit drop.
2. Sow late-summer vegetables
Early summer nights can be chilly, which often causes late-summer crops to flower prematurely before they form their useful heads and bulbs. From now on, Florence fennel, Chinese cabbage and kale, Oriental mustards and pak choi are reliable in fertile, sunny parts of the garden. Sowing in situ is best, but sowing in cell trays to plant out later can work well.
3. Summer lawn care
Lawn areas left for nature need no care, but remaining mown areas benefit from some attention. Raise the mowing height during dry weather and lower it in wetter weather to enhance grass health. Grass growth slows down in summer and it becomes feasible to mow without collecting clippings. Instead, allow them to fall back on to the sward to feed it, saving fertilizer and enhancing soil health. Lawns may go brown in prolonged dry spells, but soon green up once rains return.
4. Overgrown shrubs
Many spring and early-summer flowering shrubs, such as deutzia and philadelphus, are vigorous and hard to manage in smaller gardens. Pruning after flowering greatly saps their vigor. (Winter pruning is much less effective.) Prune out shoots that have just flowered to a new side-shoot. Often, years of trimming can leave them very congested in the middle. Resolve this by removing one in three of the older stems in the middle of the clump to near ground level.
5. Plant saucers
Standing houseplants in shallow saucers protects furnishings – but houseplants should never be allowed to sit in saucers filled with water: this promotes airless root conditions, leading to root rots. Instead, empty saucers after watering. Outdoors potted plants use much water. They can, however, reabsorb water in the saucer left after watering, greatly reducing the chances of drought stress. This allows less frequent watering, while saving water. In prolonged, very wet summer weather and after September, saucers are best omitted altogether to avoid drowning roots.
Guy Barter is the chief horticultural adviser for the Royal Horticultural Society. The Royal Horticultural Society is a charity working to share the best in gardening and make the UK a greener place. Find out more at rhs.org.uk