Garden Tips For August by Garden Designer Jill Blackwood

August is a time for enjoying your garden, spending time socialising and admiring the results of your hard work earlier in the year.  Many early summer flowering perennials have finished flowering and can be cut back to keep borders tidy, prevent the spread of disease and to give room for the later flowering perennials. Border stars this month include Agapanthus, Penstemon Dahlia and Leucanthemums.  

If you did cut back earlier flowering perennials such as Salvia and the hardy Geranium they should reward you with a second flush of flowers.  If you have any gaps in your borders make a visit to a garden centre to see what is looking good at this time of year.  Echinacea, Rudbeckia and Asters will burst into flower soon and attractive architectural grasses such as Miscanthus sinensis and Stipa gigantea with their graceful plumes will take your borders through late summer and into Autumn.

Keep planters and hanging baskets well watered and feed regularly. Deadhead perennials, roses and annuals often to prolong flowering and during hot, dry spells water border perennials and any new plantings if they look like they need it.

Weed growth should have slowed in the hotter weather but continue to pull out any that you do see to prevent weeds taking water and nutrients from your plants.

Hebe’s and Lavender can be trimmed after flowering.  Cut off the spent flowers and trim growth back by about 2.5cm.  This will help to keep the shape and stop plants becoming too woody at the base.

Reduce lawn mowing to once a week in hot dry weather and keep the blades set high.  Don’t worry if the lawn starts to look a bit dry and brown it will soon recover with some rain.

August is an ideal time to try your hand at taking cuttings to increase plants stock.  This can be done with more tender perennials like Penstemon or Osteospermum’s.  Using a sharp knife cut off a 8-10cm young shoot which has no flowers on just below a leaf joint.  Dip the cut end in rooting powder and push into a small pot filled with seed compost.  Water well and leave to drain before covering with a clear plastic bag.  Keep on you windowsill or in the greenhouse and in about six weeks the cutting should have rooted.

Keep ponds clear of debris to prevent Algae build up, shallow water features can become green quickly at this time of year so apply an Algaecide to help keep water clear.  Also regularly top up water features in hot weather as water will quickly evaporate.

In your vegetable garden continue sow spring cabbages for early crops of greens next year and continue to water and weed regularly.  Strawberries can be planted now in pots or in a prepared  bed if you have the room.  Pick runners beans regularly.  If you have too much produce many vegetables    can be frozen to ensure nothing is wasted.  In the greenhouse remove old leaves from tomatoes and other crops to help ripening by allowing more sunlight to reach the plant.    Deal with any sign of disease as soon as you spot it, this is particularly important if you have a greenhouse full of produce as pests and disease will breed rapidly in such a hot and humid atmosphere.  Start to harvest tomatoes along with cucumbers and peppers as they ripen.   If your not off on holiday take time out in the sun to enjoy your garden.

By Garden Designer, Jill Blackwood