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Garden and grounds maintenance throughout the year.






August

Sultry late summer

August is usually one of the hottest months of the year - making watering essential. Try to use grey water wherever possible, especially as water butts may be running low if it has been a dry summer. 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. When you are at home, take the time to prune Wisteria and summer-flowering shrubs such as lavender once they've finished flowering.

Top 10 jobs this month

Flowers

Dahlia 'Vulcan'Sowing and planting

  1. Towards the end of August sow hardy annuals directly into borders. They will overwinter and flower next summer.


Cutting back, pruning and dividing

  1. Cutting back the foliage and stems of herbaceous plants that have already died back (e.g. Dicentra) is starting to be a priority.

    Don't neglect hanging baskets - deadheading, watering and feeding will help them last through until autumn.

    Deadhead plants such as Dahlia, roses and Penstemon and bedding to prolong the display colour well into early autumn.

    Don't cut off the flowerheads of ornamental grasses. These will provide winter interest.

    Hardy geraniums can be cut back a little to remove tired leaves and encourage a new flush of growth.

    Prune climbing and rambling roses that do not repeat flower or produce attractive hips, once the flowers have finished.


Propagation

  1. Pinks and carnations can be propagated by layering. Propagate irises by dividing the rhizomes if not done last month.

    Take cuttings of tender perennials such as Pelargonium and Osteospermum, as soon as possible. A greenhouse, cool conservatory or a light windowsill are ideal to bring them on until they are established.

    Rock garden plants, such as HelianthemumAubrieta and Dianthus can be propagated from cuttings at this time of year.


General maintenance

  1. Feed containers, and even tired border perennials, with a liquid tomato food each week to encourage them to bloom into the early autumn.

    Keep picking flowers from the cutting garden to encourage more flower buds to form and open.

    Alpines that have developed bare patches of die-back, or have become weedy, can be tidied up by in-filling the patches with gritty compost. This will encourage new growth as well as improving their appearance.

    Most perennial weeds are best dealt with when in active growth, if necessary applying a weedkiller.


Planning ahead

  1. Collect and store seed of hardy annuals and perennials for sowing later in the autumn. Good plants to try include CalendulaNigellaCerinthePapaverAquilegia and hardy Geranium.

    Buy or order spring-flowering bulbs. Some bulbs can be planted now, such as Colchicum, daffodils and Madonna lilies (L. candidum).


Pest and disease watch

  1. Inspect chrysanthemums for the first signs of white rust and take immediate action.

    Remove and destroy any Nicotiana showing signs of downy mildew. This shows up as yellowish blotches on the upper surface of the leaves.

    Powdery mildew can be prevalent at this time of the year. Treat with an approved chemical at the manufacturer's rates.

    Apply nematodes to control vine weevil grubs, in pots or the ground.

    Earwigs can make Dahlia blooms ragged. Set traps to reduce damage.

    Don't be worried by bright green, heavily-armoured looking insects on your plants - these are harmless shieldbugs which do not require control.

    Distortion on Phlox could indicate the presence of phlox eelworm.

    Discoloured leaves on herbaceous plants such as ChrysanthemumAnemone and Penstemon may be leaf and bud eelworm.

Ponds

  1. Removing blanket weed from a pondKeep an eye on aquatic and marginal plants, removing faded flowers and yellow leaves, and cutting back where necessary.

    Top up water where necessary in ponds and water features. Aerate the water in hot sticky weather by leaving fountains on overnight.

    Continue to remove blanket weed and duckweed using a net or rake.
     


Troubleshooting

  1. Shallow water features or those with water washing over cobbles can become green very quickly in summer weather. Algicides may need applying more frequently than in normal ponds.

    Clearing out fallen leaves and debris regularly will help to keep down algal growth, as there will be fewer nutrients available from rotting organic matter. Barley straw pads or extract may also be beneficial.