Gardening In August
August offers up some of the most colorful blooms of the season to enjoy, but is also an important month to care for your garden! You can spend some time putting on the finishing touches.
August is an important month to spend time in the garden. There are a few key tasks to keep things looking healthy through fall. Plus, August is a crucial month for thinking ahead to plan for fall planting and dividing. We’ll talk about what to do throughout the country in August, and give tips for gardening in your area during summer's last month.
Sunflowers, Cornflowers, and Zinnias
What To Plant In August
Vegetables: Although it may seem odd to plant in the heat of August, now is the time to add the last round of veggies to your garden. Quick-to-produce varieties like radishes, peas, spinach, turnips, beets, and some lettuce can be planted now for fall harvest.
Bearded Iris: The heat of late summer triggers the dormant period for Bearded Iris, which is why it’s the perfect time to add new varieties of this beautiful plant to your garden. This timing allows them to establish roots before the winter months set in, which then inspires them to take off once spring hits.
Fall-Flowering Crocus: Add quick-blooming Colchicum and Fall Crocus to your garden in August for blooms that will appear in September. These bulbs are great additions to containers, front border beds, or even on sunny windowsills indoors. Bonus: Saffron Crocus produces edible stigmas that can be used fresh or dried as spice in your favorite fall dishes.
Cover Crops: As you harvest more and more in the vegetable garden and areas become empty, build the soil (and prevent weeds from taking over) by planting cover crops such as clover. When it’s time to plant, simply till or turn the crops into the soil.
August is the right time to add new Bearded Iris to the garden.
August Garden Maintenance
Dividing Bearded Iris: Because Bearded Iris go dormant in the late summer, August is the time to dig up and divide Bearded Iris that have become overcrowded. This is an important task to do each year as Bearded Iris prefer plenty of room and need air circulation to stay healthy. Learn how to divide Bearded Iris.
Weeding: Weeding is an extremely important task in August; pull weeds as they come up and definitely before they go to seed. Weeds not only can take over garden beds, but also steal nutrients and water from your plants, which are especially important in the August heat.
Mulching: Top up mulch in your gardens to help with weed suppression and to retain water. Mulch also prevents soil 'splash back' from hitting the stems and lower leaves of plants during rainy weather, a common cause of disease.
Watering: Watering is another important task in August. If you have to conserve water, focus your efforts on SOAKING the plants at the root level. Containers need to be checked daily this time of year and require extra water, especially if they are in the sun. The smaller the container, the more often it will need to be watered.
Lawn Care: If your area has been dry, and you need to conserve water, stop watering your lawn in August. Once the weather gets cooler in the fall your lawn will bounce back. Raise your mower blades by ⅓ in August. Now is also the time to reseed your lawn (if needed) before winter!
Staking: Stake top-heavy summer bloomers like Dahlias, Gladiolus, and Sunflowers (if necessary).
Deadheading: Remove spent flowers on annuals and perennials to promote blooms all the way through fall.
Composting: If you have a pile going, mix your compost in August.
August is the perfect time to open up your garden journal and update how new (and old) varieties fared this season.
Reflecting & Planning For Fall
August is the perfect time for reflection on your spring and summer garden; what do you wish you could have done better? What new plants did really well? Where could you use more color? Write notes about the growing season in a garden journal so you can remember how the season went in the future.
As you reflect on the season, August is the time to start planning your fall planting. Fall is the perfect time to add spring-blooming bulbs, wildflowers, and perennials to the garden. Take note of where you felt there was color lacking and plan for varieties that bloom at that time. If you order in August, you’ll often get discounts on varieties for fall planting.
Garden Tips For Your Region
Gardening in August: Southeast
Mornings and evenings are your friend! Gardeners in the Southeast typically experience extreme heat in August. When you need to be out in the garden, try to do so in the early morning and evening, when the sun is at its weakest.
Gardening in August: Northeast/Midwest
Hold off on fertilizing after the middle of August. Plants shouldn’t be putting out too much growth before the fall and cooler temperatures come.
Gardening in August: Pacific Northwest
August is typically a reprieve from the wet weather that summer brings in the Pacific Northwest. Don’t feel like you need to overcompensate with frequent watering. Some plants require this dry period to grow and bloom.
Gardening in August: West/Southwest
August is usually extremely hot and dry in these areas. Vegetables will start to produce rapidly, so keep up on harvesting. Regular watering is important and gardeners in the West should hold off on planting anything new until temperatures cool down a bit in the fall.
Customer photo of a Dahlia garden. (Dahlias are planted in spring - they'll be available soon to pre-order.) Be sure to enjoy your colorful garden in August!
Gardening In August: Enjoy It!
August can be a busy month for many; kids often go back to school and there are a variety of end-of-summer events to attend. So make sure to carve out some time to not only work in your garden, but also enjoy the fruits of your labor. Many August gardens are bursting in late summer color with Sunflowers, Zinnias, Dahlias, Echinacea, and more, so be sure to appreciate all of the hard work you’ve been doing to get your gardens this far into the season!
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