Jobs in the Tree and Shrub Garden in Late Summer

Jobs to Do

Preparing the soil for planting

Early autumn is one of the best seasons for planting evergreens, conifers in particular, and so, some time in late summer, the soil of the chosen site should be dug and rotted organic matter mixed in. If the soil is dry, a thorough watering a day or two beforehand will be necessary. Evergreen planting does, of course, include evergreen hedges, so preparation could mean digging out trenches, not merely individual planting sites.


jobs to do in the shrub and tree garden

jobs to do in the shrub and tree garden

Virtually no shrub and climber pruning will be needed in late summer, except to wisteria. This is done to encourage more flowering, but you can leave it alone and simply prune it to fit the space available in winter. For summer pruning wisteria, all this year’s new side-shoots are cut back to leave a length of about 30cm (12in), or about six leaves. The leading shoots should be cut back similarly.

Summer pruning of both apples and pears grown as cordons or espaliers is as follows. When the new side-shoots have matured to the stage at which the bark is light brown for about half the length of the stem, the rest gradually changing colour until it is a fresh green at the tip, the shoot should be cut to leave a length of about 15 or 17.5cm (6 or 7in). This applies to sub-side-shoots as well. Shoots which are not sufficiently mature should be left until they are, and then pruned. After the middle of early autumn it is too late to summer-prune, however, and they should be left alone.

It is important that the shoots are pruned at the right stage of maturity; too soon, and the buds which should have turned into fruit buds instead produce new shoots which do not mature by winter and are then killed. Too late, and the shoot does not bud up to form fruit buds. The first week of early summer is often the best time for the majority of trees and gardens but warm conditions can mean pruning much earlier, during the latter half of mid-summer and cold ones will put pruning back to the second or third week of late summer.

Bush-grown plums may also have what little pruning is necessary done after the fruit has been picked. Infection by silver-leaf fungus is much less likely at this time; it infects through wounds and is most troublesome in winter, so that pruning then can be disastrous. Plums fruit on two-year-old shoots and on naturally formed spurs, so all that has to be done is to encourage some new side-shoots to form every year. Too much pruning results in a great deal of strong vegetative growth, so perhaps only a quarter of the season’s new side-shoots should be cut back to four or five leaves or cut out completely. If there are any strong, new-shoots growing straight upwards from the lower branches, these should have the tips removed; in time they can be used to replace the drooping branches which become unfruitful. Keep the tree clear of crowded, diseased or weak growth.

Bush forms of sweet cherries can be pruned after the fruit has been picked. Fan-trained Morello cherries should be pruned after picking by cutting the fruited shoots off, back to a stub, on which is the replacement shoot.


Some time in late summer the formal deciduous and evergreen hedges can be given the annual clip; you could leave the deciduous kinds until winter but it is much less pleasant then and you may be prevented by the weather from doing it until too late.

You can make the job easier, if doing it by hand, by using really good quality, sharp, shears. If you have great lengths of hedges, a powered hedge-trimmer is a very worthwhile investment; it is now possible to obtain battery-driven models. When choosing one, make sure the weight is not going to be overpowering after half-an-hour or so of use; also, make sure the grip is completely comfortable and the right size for your hands. This applies to shears as well. Handles which are too thick are very tiring and rapidly produce blisters.

As soon as you start having to stretch up to cut, stand on a tripod ladder, steps or stool. Start from the bottom when cutting the sides of the hedge and use a line stretched along the top to prevent the appearance of scallops on the horizontal edge. If, however, you want scallops or castell-ations, use two lines to mark both the dips and the tops. Hedges of laurel and bay are better cut with secateurs, otherwise the leaves are badly damaged.

Although most hedges can be dealt with once a year, in late summer, there are exceptions, as given in the accompanying table. This also details the method of cutting hedges after the second winter from planting, to ensure that they have leaves down to ground level.


Plants to deadhead through late summer include rue, lavender cotton (santolina), Senecio greyi if not already done, rock rose (cistus) and roses in general. New subjects to treat will include lavender, yucca and Buddleia davidii varieties.


It is still worthwhile giving a potash-high fertilizer to camellias, tree peonies and roses as mentioned in Mid-Summer, as early as possible this season.


Some, if not all, of the shrub cuttings taken in mid-summer will have rooted by now and will need larger pots and a good potting compost. The size of pot depends on the amount of root produced and should be large enough for the roots not to be cramped. The young plants can be kept outdoors quite safely and will need regular watering.


Rose budding may be possible early this season, provided the bark still lifts easily. Any increase by the layering method also needs to be done early, so that the layers are well rooted by autumn. Late summer is a good time to make semi-ripe cuttings of shrubs and climbers. These cuttings should be about 5-17.5cm (2-7in) long, made from this year’s shoots. The shoot will have begun to mature so that the bark is starting to brown and harden from the base of the shoot but the tip will still be green and soft. The cutting is made in the usual way.

Treating pests and diseases

Troubles to contend with now will probably be earwigs eating the petals and leaves of clematis, mildew, which causes most trouble in early autumn, especially after dry summers, woolly aphis on apples and pears and birds and wasps on fruit of all kinds. Wall-grown fruit can be protected with netting against birds and jam jars full of sweet liquid will sidetrack the wasps from the fruit.

Late summer is the time to put corrugated cardboard or sacking collars, about 10-15cm (3-6in) wide, round the trunks of apple trees, just below the main branches. These collars provide places for codling caterpillars to pupate and their removal in autumn ensures a good deal of control and reduction of damage to next year’s crop.

Other pests and diseases will be as for mid-summer but by now the need for spraying should virtually have finished.

General work

Continue to water, build the compost heap and remove suckers and plain green shoots. Hydrangeas will be flowering and should not need any more blueing treatment for the time being; weeding will be much less, unless the summer is wet. Climbing plants will have grown to their limit and may now only need to have their ties reinforced after summer gales. Orchard swards need not be mown if time is short.

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30. August 2011 by admin
Categories: Trees and Shrubs | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Jobs in the Tree and Shrub Garden in Late Summer


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