August is usually one of the hottest months of the year ( so they say ) - making watering essential. Try to use grey water wherever possible, especially as water butts may be running low. August is traditionally holiday-time, so you might need to enlist the help of friends and family to look after the garden while you are away ( or give me a call ). When you are at home, take the time to prune Wisteria and summer-flowering shrubs such as lavender once they've finished flowering, ensuring you don’t cut back into old wood
Water and feed your container and hanging basket plants, deadhead every day and if some of the trailers look straggly, give them a trim with scissors
Cut back perennials which have finished flowering and continue to deadhead roses. Make sure tall varieties of late summer blooms like Crocosmia ‘Lucifer & Dahlia’s are supported so they don’t topple over, always best to have stakes available to grab as you need them.
Collect ripening seed from plants you wish to propagate, including calendulas, love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascene) and nasturtiums. Cut off the ripe seed heads, place them in paper bags and hang them in a warm dry place to dry for a few days. Break open the capsules, separate the seeds from the debris and pack them in labelled envelopes in a sealed container
Be wary of pests and diseases
Now is the time to apply vine weevil control to containers, greenhouse pot plants and vulnerable plants in the garden. Nematodes – a biological control – which specifically target vine weevil larvae arrive as freeze-dried ‘powder’ which needs to be diluted and watered on to the soil. On damp, hot days diseases can be rampant, while in a hot, dry one, aphids and red spider mite multiply prolifically. Inspect your plants carefully. Sometimes just pinching out stems or pulling off leaves covered with pests will contain the problem. Watch out for powdery mildew on roses and honeysuckle, tomato blight and caterpillars on brassicas
The summer break is the ideal time to visit public gardens and jot down design ideas and plant combinations you feel might work in yours
Design new borders for planting in the autumn, drawing up plans on paper, preferably to scale, working out the plants you’ll need bearing in mind their height and spread when mature. Budget for extras such as fertilisers and stakes
Plant autumn-flowering bulbs such as autumn crocuses, colchicums and sternbergias early in the month and plant them straight away in well-drained soil in sun.
While most spring bulbs can wait until autumn for planting, daffodils are best off planted at the end of the month unless they are earmarked for beds which can’t be cleared of summer annuals until September
Mowing the Lawn
If you have good levels of moisture the grass growth should be at or near its best so mow on a weekly basis. If wet weather causes a resurgence of moss raise the mowing height at least one if not two notches. If growth is sluggish due to lack of moisture mow at least every 10 days
For the mowing season you need to do two things: keep it clean and keep it sharp. If the grass is damp it can easily build up inside the mower so always give the mower a good brush, scrape or hose down after every use. Secondly, if you do a lot of mowing, then be prepared to sharpen or swap blades midyear to maintain a clean cut.
Fertilising the Lawn
Giving the lawn a helping hand this month with a generous feed will not only make it look a whole lot better but will keep growth optimal thus reducing moss invasion and helping the lawn wear better during the school holidays.
Most hedges can be given their final trim towards the end of the month as they will not grow much after this time.
I will be busy putting a new mini greenhouse up to start the process of seed sowing for later months and considering the plants that I will take cuttings from for next year.