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26 July 2013

August Gardening Tasks

August is the height of summer and along with July should be the hottest time of the year. Many of August's tasks involve looking after what you have already got, but there are also seeds to sow and plants to propagate to keep you busy. The following are some of the jobs you might need to do.

Regular watering is essential but it won't take long to empty your water butt. To economise try using grey water such as cold washing-up water. If necessary concentrate on new plants and those in containers, especially hanging baskets. If you are going on holiday move your containers out of the sun as far as possible to reduce the amount of watering they will need.

Don't waste water on your lawn. It may look brownish at present but will soon revive when it gets some rain on it. Keep your lawnmower blade lifted during dry periods or don't mow at all.

Keep picking flowers such as sweet peas to encourage more flowers, and regularly deadhead flowering plants. However don't remove flowerheads from ornamental grasses as they will provide winter interest.

Cut back hardy geraniums to encourage fresh growth.

Regularly feed container plants.

Don't forget about weeding - they are still active. If necessary apply weedkiller to perennial weeds.

Collect and store the seed of hardy annuals and perennials such as Calendula, Papaver, Geranium and Aquilegia for sowing later in the autumn.

Once they have finished flowering, prune climbing and rambling roses that do not repeat flower.

Stop feeding roses now as further feeding will encourage soft growth that will then be prone to diseases as it won't have a chance to ripen before winter.

August is a good time to give your hedges a trim as they will put on a little growth before the cooler weather arrives.

Prune Wisteria and shrubs such as Pyracantha after flowering. Lavenders and Hebes can also receive a light prune.

Cut back herbaceous plants where the stems and foliage have already died back.

Towards the end of the month you can sow hardy annuals in your borders, where they will overwinter and flower next summer.

Perennials may be divided once they have finished flowering but ensure that they don't dry out.

You can now take cuttings of tender perennials, eg. Salvias, Fuchsias, Verbenas, and Pelargoniums. Keep them in a cold frame, greenhouse or light windowsill until they are established, then over-winter them in a heated greenhouse or on a bedroom windowsill.

This is the time of year for taking cuttings of rock garden plants such as Aubretia and Dianthus.

Take semi-ripe cuttings of many garden shrubs to develop for future use.

It's not too early to plant spring-flowering bulbs or at least to get them ordered from your supplier.

Let's hope we get plenty of sun with overnight rain to freshen things up and to fill our water butts, and time to sit and admire our work.

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