As the weather heats up, you’ll be watering your pots daily and deadheading regularly, but at least the dry weather should mean less mowing and weeds won’t be so rampant.
Harvest home-grown herbs and salad leaves and sit back and make the most of the warm weather.
- 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. Trim back catmint that’s gone over and give lavender a haircut with shears, ensuring you don’t cut back into old wood
- Make sure tall varieties of late summer blooms like Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ are supported so they don’t topple over
- 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
- Use grey water when watering is at its peak. Washing up water and bath water can be recycled. Siphon it through a hosepipe to a water butt and focus your watering on container plants and on trees and shrubs planted this year which are not yet established
- Don’t worry too much about watering beds and borders, or the lawn, as these will usually survive
- Add a new mulch to borders and the kitchen garden or top up an old one, but only when the soil is moist. This will help reduce evaporation. Mulching also suppresses weeds, which compete with your favoured plants for water.
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
Fruit and veg
- Harvest fruit and veg when they are ripe and freeze or dry what you can’t use immediately. Continue to harvest broad, French and runner beans, courgettes while they are still small and cut pumpkins and winter squashes now. Complete harvesting early potatoes
- Pick the first ripe tomatoes, trimming off the leaves from the stem to allow the light and sunshine to ripen remaining fruits
- Sow overwintering onions such as Japanese varieties, for harvesting early next summer. Choose a well-drained spot in neutral soil.
- Prune summer-fruiting raspberries, cutting the old fruited canes down to 2.5cm (1in) above ground level and tie in all the new unfruited canes
- Prune gooseberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants, but avoid pruning figs and grapevines whose wounds bleed badly if the stems are cut in summer
- Harvest blackberries, peaches, nectarines and apricots, loganberries and the last of the summer raspberries
- 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
- Plant prepared hyacinths and ‘Paper White’ narcissi in bowls for Christmas flowering indoors
- If your lawn has gone brown while you’ve been away on holiday, cut it in easy stages. Raise the blades to just trim the top off the first time round, then lower the blades a notch each time you cut it until eventually it returns to its usual level. And don’t worry, it will come back
- If container plants are so shrivelled they are beyond help, tip them out and start again, either making the most of late bedding bargains in garden centres or going straight on to autumn planting schemes
- Thoroughly weed beds and borders, removing overgrown weeds which are threatening to shed seeds
- Feed and water greenhouse plants, picking ripe crops and clearing up and on the veg patch harvest any crops that are ripe
- Top up pond water regularly, as it evaporates quickly in hot weather
- Remove faded flower heads from marginal aquatic plants, cutting off or pulling away excess growth, which will improve the appearance of the pond. Leaves left in the water also increase its nutrient content which then boosts the growth of algae
What will you be doing to your garden in August? Share your tips and tricks in the Comments box below.