What to do in the garden in August
In many ways, August is the month when gardeners get to enjoy the fruits of their labours from the rest of the year. Lots of flowers will be in full bloom, fruit and vegetables will be ready to be harvested, and the garden in general should be at its most vibrant.
This isn't to say that there isn't work to be done if the garden is to remain at its best during the month. There are also a variety of tasks that need to be undertaken in order to get the garden ready for next year.
Trees and Shrubs
For many shrubs, August will be the month during which they cease flowering for the year. At this point it is advisable to prune them. Wisteria, other climbing shrubs and rambling roses are all likely to require pruning during the month. Herbs and lavenders are also likely to require a light prune after they have flowered.
Any trees and larger shrubs that have fallen victim to water logging during winter and drought during summer should be removed by a qualified tree surgeon. If possible, the stumps too should be removed in order to prevent the spread of rot to other plants.
August is also a good time of the year to give hedges a final trim before the onset of winter. If trimmed during the month they will only grow a little before the colder weather prevents them from becoming untidy.
Perennials, Biennials and Annuals
For tender perennials like Pelargonium, it makes sense to take cuttings early on in August so that they can be established indoors over the winter months. Rock garden plants can also be propagated during August.
Hardy annuals can be sown directly into borders towards the end of the month. This will ensure that they are ready to flower next summer. Certain spring flowering bulbs can also be planted this month. These include Colchicum and daffodils.
Cutting back herbaceous plants that have started to die back will help to encourage fresh growth for the remainder of the autumn. Deadheading plants like Dahlia and removing tired leaves from hardy geraniums will help them to keep growing and looking fresh for as long as possible.
Feeding is very important if you want your plants to keep growing during August. A liquid tomato food should be served up to containers and tired perennials once per week in order to maintain their growth.
Vegetables and Fruit
Root vegetables including carrots, potatoes and beetroots should be ready to harvest during August. Carrots and beetroot that were sown in the spring can be harvested or left in the ground to grow larger. Second early potatoes should still be available for harvest and the main crop will be ready to be picked once the plants' leaves start to die back.
Fruit trees will be bearing fruit during August. Remember to harvest them on a regular basis so that you gather the fruit before it starts to suffer from being pecked at by birds or nibbled by insects.
In hot weather, it is important to water fruit and vegetable plants every day. Tomato food should also be given to sweetcorn, aubergines, cucumbers and peppers in order to ensure that they produce the best possible vegetables.
In order to grow good sized vegetables, it is often necessary to limit the number that grow on each plant. For tomatoes this requires the top of the plant to be pinched off once it has five or six trusses of fruit established. The same is required for aubergines once they have five or six vegetables underway.
When mowing lawns during the summer months, it is advisable to mow them lightly and often in order to ensure that there are always grass clippings lying on the surface. The clippings form a mulch that is able to retain moisture in the lawn's grass.
High phosphate feeds will help to strengthen the roots of a lawn rather than promoting the growth of the blades of grass. This will guard against the root structure being weakened due to the tops suffering during the winter. This procedure will be of particular benefit for lawns that are grown in thin soil.
Don't use weedkillers on the lawn while the weather is still warm. Wait until it becomes cooler and damper in order to ensure that they do the maximum damage to weeds. If an area is to be grassed over then it can be dug over during August before being left until autumn to see if any weeds will re-emerge. At this point, it makes sense to apply weedkiller before sowing grass seeds or laying turf.
Other bits and bobs
While it is still dry, it makes sense to take care of any painting jobs that are needed around the garden. Fences and sheds can be given a fresh coat of preservative in order to protect them against the elements during the winter.
Leaky roofs and broken panes of glass in greenhouses should also be addressed before the weather turns wet. You might as well clear out the guttering while you are checking whether the roof leaks.
Algae and moss on hard surfaces should be removed in order to ensure that they do not become slippy once there is moisture lying on the ground. Boiling water is an effective weed killer for paved areas.
There are various plants that it makes sense to order up now if you are to be able to plant them in time to take full advantage of them next year. Making a sketch of your vegetable plot or your flower borders is often a useful way of planning out what to buy and where to put it. Photographs are very useful to use as reference points for work on rearranging the garden during winter.
Now is a good time to order up any bulbs that are required for spring planting. Perennial plants are also worth buying in during August so that you have them in time for the autumn.