Essential July Garden To-Do List

by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener

Senior Woman watering flowers in the garden

July is the ideal month to add a shade or fruit tree, a berry plant, summer flowering shrubs, and perennials to the Landscape. Plants root quickly in the warm summer soil. With the arrival of monsoon rains, plants thrive even more. The increased humidity and shade from a cloud floating over the head are a relief to you and your plants.

Heat Loving Perennial – This is the best time to add summer-blooming perennials to garden containers and flowerbeds. Perennials are those flowers that come back every year bigger and bolder than the last. Perennials are in bloom at the garden center in July and the best time to shop for heat-loving flowers.

Free the Landscape with 7-4-4 All Purpose Plant Food – This is the month to push new growth from the leafy deciduous plants in the yard, especially those damaged by thrip, aphids, and wind. By the end of July, feed everything in the yard with 7-4-4 All Purpose Plant Food. Apply a generous application of this plant food to everything in the yard.

Each time rain and irrigation touch this organic food, it releases vital nutrients to hungry plants for enhanced growth and better color. Roses, crape myrtle, Rose of Sharon, Autumn sage, and fruiting plants like grapes and berries are hungry in July. Expect more blooms from vegetables and flowers, more abundant fruit, and better taste when using this all-natural plant food.

Ken Lain Holding Humic and All Purpose Plant food

Treat Stressed Plants with Humic – Any plant that doesn’t look how it should need help from Watters ‘Humic’. This granular nutrient is essential to spread on lawns, flower beds, or anything you want to encourage deeper roots. This same product also brings intense color from your evergreens and the natives in the yard.

Control Bugs like grasshoppers from eating the gardens. Spray bug control, or apply ‘NOLO Bait’ right away to keep this pest knocked down. Powdery mildew and flea beetles also become bad this month. Deal with problems in the yard early. Bring samples to the garden center, and we can provide an exact diagnosis with a solution. Remember to place samples in ziplock bags or jars to prevent the disease from spreading at the garden center.

Harvest and replant the vegetable garden. Lettuce, spinach, and spring greens have been harvested regularly for several weeks, now they look tired from the summer heat. It’s time to remove these plants and add them to the compost pile. After loosening the soil, you can plant other heat-loving crops. Check Watters Vegetable Planting Guide for details.

Prune late spring blooming shrubs.  Lilac, forsythia, Quince, Rhododendrons, and the other spring-blooming shrubs have been spectacular this spring, and it’s time to prune, setting the stage for next years bloom. Start by removing spent blossoms and seed heads on lilacs. Cut back any dead wood and thin shrubs as needed. Do not remove more than one-third of the shrub in any given year. Your work should be rewarded next year with lavish flowers. Remember to feed blooming shrubs with Watters 7-4-4 All Purpose Plant Food when done.

Weed and weed some more. Spurge, purslane, bindweed, thistle, goathead, horehound – sigh! These weeds rob treasured plants of the water they need during the summer heat. Go out early in the day to enjoy cooler temperatures while doing this essential task.  Decimate is a weed killer better than Roundup in mountain landscapes. Mix, spray, and watch your weeds melt away without the cancer-causing effect of Roundup.

Check Irrigation Settings. In most seasons, the water budget feature on the irrigation controller is used. This allows adjustments to all water stations at once. In late spring, the controller is set to 85% of the scheduled water times. Cooler evening temperatures mean plants need less water. July is a great time to recheck your water budget percentage to ensure your controller is 100% or greater. When cool evenings return in Autumn, you can dial back the budget again. Water early in the morning so your plants are hydrated before the heat of the day. When water budgeting is done right, it can save you both water and money.

Watters Free Garden Class Series Saturday’s @ 9:30 am

Join the garden fun each Saturday as we share local tips, tricks, and garden advice sure to make a difference in your gardens.

July 3 – Gardening for Newcomers – Learn all the mountain secrets to local garden success. This is an information-packed class guaranteed to increase garden blooms and fruit this year.

July 10 – Plant Better Berries and Grapes – Berry, grape, fig, and pomegranate are all covered in this juicy, fast-paced class. You will have bowls of fruit picked fresh from the gardens after this week’s class.

July 17 – Avoid these Common Pest at All Cost – Hard to kill bugs like the grasshopper, blister beetle, and spider mites kill. After this heavy science class, you will know how to deal with pests and diseases in the gardens.

Until next week, I’ll be helping gardeners here at Watters Garden Center.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his website at or