What to do in your garden in July

Kim Nelson

PLANTING

Lavender. Plant these lavender hybrids for fragrant flowersand foliage texture: 'Grosso' (violet-blue flower spikes that drywell), 'Hidcote Giant' (plump, deep violet spikes), and 'Provence'(light violet flowers ideal for sachets). In Sunset climate zones 1a­3b, grow them in containers. Inzones 10­13, grow them in well-drained garden soil.

Permanent plants. Zones 1a­3b: Plant perennials now soplants can get established before winter. Consider tough trees andshrubs like juniper, Mexican buckeye ( Ungnadia speciosa), Russian hawthorn ( Crataegus ambigua), and silverberry ( Elaeagnus commutata). Zones 10­13: Set outdrought-tolerant trees and shrubs such as acacia, Apache plume ( Fallugia paradoxa), chaste tree ( Vitex agnus-castus), and palo verde ( Cercidium 'Desert Museum').

Summer color. Set out heat-tolerant Southwest natives suchas angelita daisy ( Tetraneuris acaulis), butterfly weed ( Asclepias tuberosa), chocolate flower ( Berlandiera lyrata), poppy mallow ( Callirhoe involucrata), sundrops ( Calylophus serrulatus), and Texas hummingbird mint ( Agastache cana). Seeds and plants of these natives areavailable from Plants of theSouthwest (800/788-7333).

Warm-season vegetables. Zones 1a-3b: Plant pumpkins earlythis month to guarantee ripe fruit before frost. Sow seeds of bushbeans, snap beans, beets, collard greens, cucumbers, lettuce,melons, radishes, and spinach. Zones 10, 11: Sow cantaloupe, corn,cucumbers, eggplant, okra, pumpkins, and summer and winter squash.Plant potatoes at month's end. Zones 12, 13: Sow black-eyed peas,corn, okra, melons, pumpkins, and squash. Two good sources areRoswell Seed Company (505/622-7701) and Seeds ofChange (888/762-7333).

MAINTENANCE

Collect rainwater. As drought conditions persist, plan toharvest water from summer monsoons. Form soil berms to direct andhold rainwater in tree wells, or channel roof runoff into largebasins. Place barrels under downspouts to catch rainwater forpotted plants.

Dethatch lawns. If you have a hybrid Bermuda grass lawn, youneed to remove the dense mat of runners every two or three years toallow water and nutrients to reach the roots. After mowing,vigorously run a hard-tined rake through the grass to thin the mat.Or rent a gas-powered dethatching machine and run it over the lawntwice in opposite directions. Follow with another mowing, thenfertilize and water deeply.

Learn about low-water plants. If you live in the Phoenixarea, pick up a copy of Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert: Guide to Growing MoreThan 200 Low-Water Use Plants, published by the Arizona MunicipalWater Users Association (2004; 602/248-8482). The free bookletis available from the AMWUA and through local water-conservationoffices.

Solarize soil. Use the sun's heat to rid soil of damagingfungus or nematodes or to kill unwanted Bermuda grass. First loosenthe soil and water well, then cover the area with heavy (6-mil)clear-plastic sheeting. Use stakes or rocks to hold it in place.Leave the plastic in place for four to eight weeks.

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