July is my favorite gardening month because you can plant things you didn't get a chance to plant early in the spring and the sales at garden centers begin.
If this was the year that you had planned to grow some of your own food but you didn't get around to doing it you've got a second chance to grow some vegetables. In July and August you can direct sow seeds like lettuce, spinach, broccoli, kale cabbage,leeks, carrots, turnips, pakchoi and beans for fall season vegetable crops. In small spaces try something like the Green Box and the EarthBox or shop for cheap containers, or make your own raised beds.
You can plant even plant annuals that by now may not look so great. Right now I'm sowing direct-sowing seeds like sunflowers, cosmos and zinnias. Don't forget to deadhead spent blooms in your garden now to get a second set of blooms at the end of the growing season.
I've noticed that many garden centers are having great sales right now. Take advantage of the deep discounts on perennials that have already flowered and are marked to move. At Home Depot I spotted shrubs starting at 25% off and trees marked 50% off. A couple of weeks ago Sprout Home had vegetable plants at 50% off, today I spotted the seeds at Menard's at 40% off. Buy seeds for perennials, they are sometimes cheaper grown from seed than full-grown plants. Keep newly planted garden plants well watered. Make a garden plan before planting and take into consideration that fall garden bulbs will soon hit the garden centers so leave room for them. Tools for the garden and containers are also starting to go on clearance buy what you'll need next spring now.
Today I went to the Swap O Rama at 4100 S. Ashland looking for garden junk. Didn't find anything to use in the garden, but I noticed how many garden plants were for sale and cheaper than the plants still regularly priced at some garden centers around Chicago.
You can even find some reasonably priced containers like these terracotta pots that they wanted $9.00 for. Later in the day I stopped at a big box garden center and saw the same sized pots for $25.00.
From the same vendor I bought plastic pots twice the size of that large terracotta pot for 7.00. If you're not against using plastic garden pots I've spotted large planters and window boxes for sale at local dollar stores too.
Check the local listings in the Farm & Garden section of CraigsList and Freecycle for more deals. If it is something you can use or plant in your garden it doesn't matter where you get it, as long as you don't pay full price in July.