The heady days of late summer should be about taking time to savour the perfume and bloom of your favourite plants and enjoying every moment out in the sunny garden.
However, there are a number of essential gardening jobs in August that you must complete, if you want to truly maximise the pleasure you get from your outdoor space all year round. Here are some of the tasks gardeners should be tackling right now:
Water, water, everywhere
Often the hottest month of the year, August is no time to put away the watering can. For the good of the environment, use ‘grey’, or recycled water where you can to keep your beds, lawns and shrubs hydrated and healthy. New plants and plants in containers are particularly susceptible to drying out, so make regular watering a habit when temperatures soar, and if you’re going on holiday, ask a neighbour to do the job for you.
If you’re hoping for plenty of buds on plants like camellias or rhododendrons next year, now’s the time to get out the hose pipe and give them a drink.
At this time of year it can seem as if everything is growing before your eyes so be prepared for some serious pruning. August is the month when hedges should be trimmed right back, both to keep things looking neat and to encourage thicker, healthier growth next year.
It’s also the time to dead-head your bedding plants, as well as perennial plants like lavender, geranium, phlox and dianthus. This will both stop them from self-seeding wherever they please and will also make them more likely to reward you with flowers into the autumn.
Keen herb growers should take the opportunity to cut these back as well. Doing so will bring forth a new surge of delicious growth for September and – if you’re lucky – October too!
In August, try to look ahead to how you’d like to enjoy your garden next year and begin to collect the seeds you’d like to store. Of course, you can always leave seed heads in place and let the plants do the work for you if you prefer a wilder, more haphazard garden.
Now, when they’re really thriving and lush, is also a good time to take cuttings from tender species like fuchsia, verbena and pelargonium.
Enjoy the harvest
Having spent all spring and summer nurturing the edible elements of your garden, August is when the harvesting begins. Some veg, especially lettuce and summer squash, need to be picked regularly in order to ensure good growth continues. The first figs will arrive in August; as will blackberries, plums, raspberries and some early ripening apples. Remember that if you live in a warmer part of the country, there are some vegetables you can sow in August too – try beetroot, spring onions and oriental greens like bok choy.
Late summer, with its sultry fragrance-filled nights and days full of glorious display, is the time to enjoy your garden at the very peak of its beauty. Just make sure that, while you’re out there, you make a few simple investments in its year-round health.