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Summer is the time that we can all sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of our labour in our gardens. Whilst this is often the case, there are still a few essential maintenance tips to be getting on with throughout the season.

Pecking order Like with the hard frosts in winter, summer’s less frequent rainfall presents a challenge for our feathered garden visitors when it comes to finding food from the ground. We can all help to give their beaks a break by putting foods out for them at a time when they seek high protein foods, especially whilst they are moulting. Te RSPB advises a mixture of fruit, mixed seeds, raisins or sunflower seeds – but not peanuts as these are bad news for young birds! Don’t forget water either, a birdbath is the perfect place for a pit stop and cool off in the heat of the sun.

Lawn to be loved With the humming of lawn movers providing a common soundtrack for a sunny British weekend, most of us know the importance of keeping our lawns in check. Tis not only keeps them looking tidy but also promotes healthy summer growth and there are a few things to keep in mind whilst working on them. After a spell of dry weather it is important to raise the heights of the blades so as to not rip the grass from the root which can create unsightly bare patches on your lawns. Feeding also needs to continue. Should you be finding yourself with a growing weed problem, make sure you take hold of the situation. You can combine your lawn feed with moss or weed killer, you can also buy the complete solution to save you on a little work. When it comes to your flower beds, wait for a warm day to unearth them from the root where the sun will finish them off minus the use of chemicals.

R By Hannah Mead

Pick of the bunch Tis time of year, every gardener should be thinking about deadheading. Not only does this simple task remove ugly wilted flowers from your seasonal displays but it also works to channel the plant’s energy into producing fresh blooms. Equip yourself with a sharp pair of secateurs and some gardening gloves before checking flowers in your borders, baskets and containers for those that are slightly withered to give them a new lease of life.

Your sweet peas should now be on floral form so make sure that you pick them regularly for a continual flow of sweet scented blooms for the remainder of the summer season. Should you be finding gaps in your flowerbeds your quick fix is to plant in some container grown perennials. Shrubs are also a good option to fill up any spaces and they should flower into autumn. My advice is to opt for choices such as Caryopteris which is a scented evergreen shrub hosting pretty displays of blue flowers. Achilleas would also be effective as they boast heads of flowers in shades of yellow, pink, red or white. Pots and containers will also work well as a floral fix when placed about the garden and can be easily put together.

Now back to the matter of pest control. It is important check your plants for pests and potential diseases. Tell tale signs of a sick plant are leaf spots and powdery mildew. To combat these remove all the infected parts of the plant and get your hands on some fungicide that contains penconazole, this combined with regular monitoring should nip the problem in the bud (excuse the pun!).

Garden grub Keep on sowing seeds for your salad leaves for an uninterrupted flow for your plate, once every two weeks should do the trick. Te more time pressed amongst you could also consider buying young salad plants which have been started off already to speed up the harvest time. Other vegetables to consider sowing at this time of year are carrots, peas and cabbage. In preparation take the time to make sure soil is well drained and fertile in order to get the most out of your crop.

An idea is to create a raised bed to ensure that the soil is deep enough and this will also help you when it comes to pest control. Start them off with liquid feed to promote early growth and remember to keep on top of watering. 77

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