August Garden Calendar
Summer temperatures may be taking a toll on your lawn and garden by August, but you should be able to keep things growing with care and attention. Water regularly and deeply, prune dead or diseased plants, hand-weed or use a hoe to remove weeds while they're small and harvest your veggies. Plus, it's not too soon to start thinking about a fall garden.
Weed, Water and Mulch
Lawn and flowers need about 1 inch of water a week to stay green and healthy. Use a rain gauge to make sure they're getting enough. If using a sprinkler, set out a pan or tuna can on the lawn to measure how much water falls. (Best time to water: early morning. It prevents evaporation and allows foliage to dry quickly to prevent disease.)
You can save water all season long with techniques like using landscape fabric in beds, setting timers on your sprinklers and collecting water in rain barrels. You may also want to consider some longer-term lawn changes such as low-maintenance rock gardens.
Keep Up with Weeding
When the weather is hot, it's easy to avoid getting out in the garden. But work in the cool of morning or evening so the weeds don't take over.
Top with Mulch
Top off beds and other plantings with more mulch, if you want. It slows the return of weeds, conserves moisture, and prevents soil-borne diseases from spreading. Just remember: Mulch should be 1 to 3 inches deep, no deeper.
Start thinking about structural projects you might want to tackle this fall. Plan a path or an arbor that you want to build when the weather cools. (And be thinking about fall vegetable planting, too!)
Related: 20 Secrets to Landscape Success
Container Garden Care
In hot weather, containers usually need watering daily and may even need watering twice a day— especially thirsty plants such as fuchsia, impatiens and hibiscus. If the container soil dries out and gets so hard that water runs rapidly down the inside surface of the pot, set the pot in a bowl or bucket of water halfway up the container's sides. After a couple of hours, the soil will rehydrate.
Pinch Off Dying Foliage
Every time you water container plants, pinch off yellowing or problem foliage and spent flower blooms to encourage more lush growth and flowers.
Continue Fertilizing Containers
Fertilize every two weeks to assure plenty of growth and bloom. Use a bloom-booster fertilizer with flowering plants.
Cut Back Annuals
Petunias getting ratty-looking? It's a good idea to cut all your annuals back by one- to two-thirds to encourage fuller, bushier growth with more flowers. In Zones 3-5, if your cool-season annuals such as snapdragons and lobelia have made it through summer's heat (they often die out in July and August), cut them back by about half to encourage a fresh flush of growth and bloom in the cooler temperatures of fall.
Deadheading flowers not only keeps your landscape tidy-looking, it also encourages certain flowers to bloom more.
Stop Some Fertilizing
In Zones 4-6, stop fertilizing roses (as well as any other trees and shrubs). Fertilization will encourage new, tender growth that will get zapped by winter cold.
Tackle Diseased Plants
If the plant is an annual and badly damaged, consider just tearing it out. This time of year, it's not likely to recover and will only look bad and possibly spread the problem to its neighbors. Otherwise, trim off an affected part of the plant and take it to a quality local garden center. They'll be able to diagnose the problem and recommend a solution.
Pick Veggies Regularly
If your garden is still producing a bounty—and it should be—keep the harvest going by picking veggies like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and beans. Regular harvesting encourages more production and prevents the plants from becoming overripe.
Continue to Mow High
Let Grass Grow Longer
Longer grass will shade the soil, conserving moisture and discouraging weeds. Mow 3 inches high for cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass and 2 inches for most warm-season grasses, such as Bermudagrass and zoysia. But don't let your lawn grow too high before you mow—the rule of thumb is never to remove more than one-third of the grass blade at a time, or you'll stress your grass.