What To Do In The Garden In August

August is the perfect time to sit back, relax and enjoy all your hard work in the garden. With everything in full swing, it is an opportunity to assess how your planting schemes have worked this season and think about what to order for next year’s display – look out for Mr Fothergill’s 2018 seed catalogue, mailing soon.

Gardening tasks have a maintenance focus this month to make the most of your summer displays and produce before the busy autumn period kicks in September.

Holiday Garden Care

With schools holidays in full swing, many of us will be setting off on our summer breaks. Plans need to be put in place to ensure plants are catered for while you are away. If you can’t call on a neighbour to keep an eye on things, try these top tips to keep your garden ticking over while away:

  • Move pots and baskets into the shade.
  • Remove all flowers from summer bedding to slow down their water intake and prevent them running to seed. New buds should be in bloom by the time you return.
  • Mow the lawn but set the blades higher than normal. Longer grass copes better in dry weather.
  • Pick all ripe fruit and vegetables, storing or freezing them for use on your return.
  • Top up ponds and water features.
  • Spend some time weeding before you set off so the garden isn’t overrun on your return.
  • Water the garden heavily just before you set off, particularly pots and baskets.
  • If possible set up an automatic irrigation system for your pot plants.
  • Give prized pot plants their own holiday – if friends can’t make it your garden, ask them to take on a few of your favourite pots in their garden.

Lush lavender

Give lavender plants a light trim as flowers fade. Use shears to remove flower stalks and up to a third of foliage growth. This will keep growth compact, preventing the plants from turning woody and bare, which can be a problem with neglected plants.

Hanging baskets

Upkeep and maintenance are more important now than ever if you wish to get the longest show from your summer hanging baskets, as plants will quickly run to seed and start to fade if you let them.

  • Keep compost consistently moist by continuing to water daily (twice a day in particularly hot spells)
  • Apply a weekly liquid feed – even if you used granular fertilisers when planting, as much of this will have been used by the plants by now.
  • While you are giving baskets a soak, pinch off finished flowers to keep plants tidy and productive.


Dry flower displays – turn your summer favourites into a later winter bouquet

Dried flowers are a bit of a forgotten art form, but with the rise of grow your own cut flowers in recent years, dried winter displays are coming back in vogue, and it couldn’t be simpler to make your own.
There are thousands of flowering garden plants to choose from for dried displays and it’s actually worth experimenting with everything in your garden to find out what makes the best-dried specimens.
As with fresh cut flowers, the trick is to collect stems when still in tight bud or just when flowers are starting to open.   Pick or cut them early in the day, as soon as any dew has dried – they will be at their lowest moisture content at this time, leading to quicker drying times.

Give stems a shake after collection, this will remove any lingering water droplets as well as any insects. Keep them out of direct sunlight to prevent them wilting.

No matter how many you collect they should be tied into small bunches of 6- 12 stems, larger bunches prevent air circulation around the buds which can lead to rotting.

The bunches should then be hung upside down (this keeps the stems straight) in a warm, dry, dark shed or garage. Depending on the type of flower, the drying process should take between two and six weeks. When fully dried the flowers should feel stiff and dry.

Houseplant holiday

August temperatures are perfect for moving houseplants outside for a week or two, where they will make the most of light levels.  Increase watering as the pots will dry out quicker in the summer sun. They will also benefit from summer showers, which will help to wash away dust from the foliage.

Strawberry care

Strawberry beds and planters can look a little unkempt at this time of year, but you can turn the mess into an opportunity. As plants finish fruiting they focus on sending out runners to create new plants. As you examine your plants you may already find runners that have rooted into the soil, just below a leaf join.

If this is the case you can carefully dig these up, snip the runner on either side of the leaf section and pot on the young plant for setting back in the soil in autumn, exactly where you want it to grow.

Alternatively, you can use garden wire to pin unrooted runners to the soil to encourage them to set roots, for lifting and potting up in autumn.

Summer lawn care

Mowing– this should be done weekly through summer, but through August, the cutting height should be raised slightly to help reduce drought stress. The height can be lowered again in mid-September when the cooler wetter weather starts to arrive.

Feeding – Summer lawn feeds not only ensure lush green grass they also provide the turf with all it needs to strengthen roots ahead of winter.

Weeding – Aim to remove large weeds by hand, using a lawn weeding tool or knife to take out as much root as possible. Place a pinch of lawn seed in gaps left by their removal. Lawn weed killers can be used, but apply late in the evening when evaporation will be slower, leading to better uptake by the weeds.

Watering – browning lawns are common place at this time of year. The grass soon recovers once autumn rain arrives, so it is up to you whether you water the lawn to keep it lush. New lawns started this year, should be watered through summer dry spells.

Prep for new lawns – Autumn is an ideal time to sow lawn seed or lay new turf. To ensure trouble free lawns it pays to prep the soil now, giving the ground time to settle and weeds to emerge. Bump, hollows and unwanted weeds can then be removed shortly before sowing or turfing.

Black spot on roses

This unsightly leaf disease really shows itself in late summer. Unfortunately, it is too late in its development to control with sprays. However, you can help prevent it spreading next year, by removing infected leaves as they fall. Do not add these to compost heaps as it will only move the problem around the garden. Dispose of with household waste.

On the veg patch

August is about keeping on top of harvesting to prevent produce going over on the plants. Check crops daily.

Thin out late sown carrots but watch out for carrot fly at this time of year. Create a physical barrier at least 45cm (18in) high around the crop to keep them away. Garden canes and horticultural fleece are ideal for this. If you still have onion or garlic crops, crush some of their leaves and scatter near your carrots as an extra masking measure.

Continue to feed autumn cropping squashes, pumpkins and marrows for the largest fruits come harvest.

Water tomatoes regularly and evenly to prevent the risk of blossom end rot setting in. Black bases can occur on the fruit if plants are allowed to dry out in between watering.

Quick crops like salad leaves, rocket and radish can still be sown in the south of the country with little risk. Gardeners in the North can give it a go, but be prepared for the first frosts!

Everyone can continue to sow spring cabbages, overwintering onions, turnips and oriental cabbage leaves.

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