Professional Gardener - Watering, bedding plants and tubs

With drought conditions forecast, gardens should be divided into zones for watering, says Sally Drury.


Major weather-predicting services are forecasting drought and low rainfall across much of the UK this summer, so top up and renew mulches to ensure that soil moisture is conserved and weeds are suppressed. Where irrigation is not available, divide the garden into watering zones.

Bedding plants

The weather is settled so let's get bedding planted out - in the north, wait until next week for dahlias and cannas. Plant ornamental urns and connect drip irrigation where possible.

Hanging baskets and tubs

Move outside and give a booster feed. Use drip irrigation where practical.

Annuals log

Prepare log to record performance of annuals, starting with sowing records. Add planting out dates and notes of initial height and habit. Columns will also be needed for flowering date and quality of manure plants, bearing in mind the weather. Ask the team for opinions.

Newly-planted trees and shrubs

Water and check establishment and development. Apply organic mulch when necessary.

Shrubs and climbers

Prune wall-trained pyracanthas. Tie in other climbers. Prune Clematis montana and shrubs such as Kerria japonica as they finish flowering.


Watch for aphids and when necessary spray early in the morning or during the evening if possible.


Continue staking and tying in. Cut back and divide spring-flowering perennials such as pulmonarias and doronicums. Divide early primulas.

Lawns and grass paths

The cutting height deemed normal for this time of year may need reviewing depending on the amount of rainfall. Leaving extra length may keep it greener for longer. Ensure that cutting is done with sharp mower blades otherwise damaged grass will quickly turn brown. Continue edging work.

Kitchen garden

Plant out the French beans raised last month. Plant dwarf runner beans next week. Plant out celeriac and sow radicchio. Continue sowing peas. Harvest crops as they mature. Next week, plant out winter brassicas, marrows, courgettes and pumpkins. Plant out sweetcorn in blocks.

Prune and pinch out shoots of wall-trained fruit. Thin out raspberry canes. Hopefully it is too dry for grey mould on strawberries, but inspect plants and remove infected fruits. Harvest rhubarb.

Pests and diseases

Many are on the attack - from gooseberry sawfly to aphids on roses. Watch and control as necessary.


Pot up perennial cuttings taken earlier in the spring. Provide shading - paint or fabric - for greenhouses and conservatories.

Health and safety

Ensure a good supply of suitable factor sun creams for the team. Review risk assessments as appropriate for the time of year.

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