Holiday season is here and gardens are hot hot hot! If you’re going away on holiday remember to ask a friend or family member to water the garden for you (that’s if there’s not too much rain), read some of our top tips for holiday-proofing your garden here. Plants can wilt quickly at this time of year so may need constant attention if rainfall is limited. Most importantly, August gardening is about enjoying your garden.
Essential August Gardening Jobs
- Prune wisteria
- Prune roses
- Plant Madonna Lily
- Deadhead flowers
- Prune fruit trees and busges
- Lift garlic and shallots
- Divide congested clumps of chives
- Feed and water plants
- Feed and weed your lawn
Last chance to
- Harvest the last of the peas and beans
- Take cuttings of tender plants
August is an ideal moment to prune your wisteria, removing long whippy growth the plant has made this year, back to five or six leaves. This will help keep your plant in-bounds and stop it causing problems with guttering and eaves if growing on a house wall. Pruning also encourages the plant to form next year’s flower buds.
Cut back lavender
Keep lavender tip-top by trimming back as soon as plants finish flowering, cutting stems by around a third. You don’t have to cut each stem individually – trim them off in handfuls. Pruning lavender not only helps keep them in shape but also makes bushes live longer.
Rambling roses that do not develop colourful hips are worth pruning in August to keep them in bounds and flowering well. Thin out growth by removing a third of the oldest stems, and cut away any shoots that have flowered.
Take cuttings of tender plants
If you would like to keep any half-hardy plants for next year, August is the time to take cuttings. Perennials such as Verbenas, Fuchsias and Pelargoniums are good plants to take cuttings from. Once you have taken the cutting, dip into a hormone rooting compound before inserting them into small pots. Fill these small posts with Seed & Cutting Compost. Water in well and ensure to keep the cuttings in a warm place but out of direct sunlight. Within 8 weeks the cuttings should have rooted.
Plant Madonna Lily
If you want to grow this temperamental flower, August is the best time for it. They prefer lime-based soil and should be planted no more than 5cm deep.
August gardening also involves keeping your garden full of colourful flowers for longer. Do this by removing flowers as soon as they fade. This helps the plant to make new blooms, instead of putting its energy into seed production.
Dahlias are one of the highlights of late summer and can still look dazzling until the frosts. Keep displays sparkling with regular deadheading; this will help ensure more flowers keep on coming.
Keep repeat flowering roses in gorgeous bloom all summer by deadheading regularly, removing the faded flowers and flower stalk down to the nearest leaf, which will encourage more flowering shoots.
Before you head off on holiday, a few simple steps will ensure that your plants don’t go thirsty while you’re enjoying a well-earned break. Move pots and window boxes to a part of the garden that’s in the shade and stand pots in deep saucers to ensure that roots have a reservoir of water to draw from. You could even place your pots in a paddling pool to soak up the water they need whilst you are away,
Hanging baskets soon bake dry in the heat, so take them down and stand each basket on a bucket in a shady area, taking care not to damage trailing plants. If that’s not possible, provide a neighbour or family member with a hosepipe lance to make watering easy. Even if the weather is wet while you’re away, container plants still dry out quickly, with dense canopies preventing rain from reaching the compost so they’ll still need watering even if the heavens open.
Feeding plants during the growing season is the foundation of good gardening. Boosting nutrients can result in spectacular displays of flowers, and bumper harvests of fruit and vegetables from stronger, healthier plants that are better able to ward off attacks by pests and diseases. Edibles and bedding plants are the hungriest garden plants and so respond well to regular feeding, especially when grown in containers. An important August gardening job is to make sure you use a good all purpose plant food like Boost which contains equal amounts of NPK to promote growth, root development and 4 x more flowers*
*bedding plants vs unfed
Prune fruit trees
New shoots on espalier, fan-trained and cordon apple and pear trees need pruning in summer. This helps plants produce better growth and more fruit which then ripens more readily. Also look out for new shoots growing from the main stem and cut back to 3 leaves; remove any upright vigorous shoots.
You can still prune established plum trees at the start of August. Cut back new growth by about a third and remove any shoots that spoil the open-centred vase shape.
Prune summer-fruiting raspberries, blackberries and hybrid berries
Another August gardening job is to cut back the canes that have already fruited to ground level. This creates space for the green canes that will fruit next year. Tie in the new growth to the support.
Harvest the last of the peas and beans
Runner beans are borne in abundance in August, so you’ll need to aim to harvest every few days or plants can quickly stop flowering and no further pods will form. Beans are best picked when young and tender – pods should snap easily, while beans inside remain small.
Keep picking peas regularly if you want to keep your plants flowering and cropping. When pods are well filled with peas – usually around three months after sowing – they’re ready to be harvested.
Lift garlic and shallots
Once the tops of the garlic and shallots have died off, expose the bulbs to sunlight by removing the soil from around them. This will help to ripen them. As soon as the tops have dried off, lift the bulbs and leave them to dry for storage.
Divide congested clumps of chives
If you have any congested clumps of chives, now is a good time to divide them up into smaller clumps. Dig the bulbs up and divide them into smaller clumps of about 5 or 6 bulbs. This will give them more space to grow.
As summer progresses, tired turf is often crying out for revival – and natural, child and pet-friendly treatments hold the key to a greener, thicker and lusher lawn. A lawn revival treatment should be applied every three to four weeks until September, unless conditions are dry. The mix of lawn seed, fertiliser and soil enhancer will breathe new life into yellowing grass on compacted soil. It’s a great way to boost the thickness of sparse grass, add nutrients, look after the long-term health of soil, and green up grass so lawns can be enjoyed all summer long.
Here are some more top tips to keep your lawn looking as healthy as possible:
- Cut the lawn at least once a week, with your lawn mower blades raised higher than usual to help the blades retain as much water as possible
- Leave grass clippings on the lawn as they will act as a mulch, helping water retention
- Remove obvious weeds as these will be competing for light, water and nutrients, try using this Kent & Stowe Corkscrew Weeder