|Lawn and Garden Maintenance Checklist|
|August Lawn and Garden Maintenance Checklist|
· Plant a fall crop of peas. The roots of peas fix nitrogen into the soil for next spring planting. Remember, when planting peas for fall, plant them almost twice as deep as spring-planted peas. This will help keep the seeds cool and also from drying out before they germinate.
· You can still plant some varieties of snap (green) beans for a fall harvest. Sow beets, lettuce, mustard, turnips and carrots in August for a fall crop. Be careful to give extra water to these young plants while they are becoming established. The result will be excellent cool-season garden produce.
· All of these are heat and drought tolerant once established. Zinnia, cosmos, marigold, cleome and sunflower seed can be sown this month for fall bloom.
· Container-grown perennials, shrubs and trees can be planted this month. Always take time to properly prepare the soil by mixing generous quantities of peat moss, compost and processed manure with your existing soil.
· It’s a good time of year to divide congested clumps of chives. Dig them up and divide in small clumps of about five or six bulbs. Replant with a handful of compost.
· Perennial and biennial plants can be started from seed sown directly into the garden this month or next.
· Spring-flowering perennials can be divided and transplanted this month or next. Be sure to do this during the coolest part of the day and water the plants thoroughly after transplanting.
· Plant spring wildflowers. They must germinate in late-summer or early-fall, develop good root systems and be ready to grow in spring when the weather warms. Plant seed in well-prepared soil, one-half inch deep and water thoroughly.
· Have soil tested for fall fertilization requirements if it has been three years or more since the last analysis.
· Don’t fertilize woody plants now. It stimulates green growth that will not have time to harden off before winter.
· Daffodils and tulips should be fertilized in early to mid-August. Apply 2 pounds of 5-10-10 or 6-12-12 per 100 square feet.
· Stop feeding roses now. Feeding will encourage soft growth that won’t have a chance to ripen before the winter.
· Continue to feed houseplants with a good quality indoor plant food like Osmocote (a slow-release granular).
· Fertilize all water lilies and lotus once a month to keep the plant blooming continuously throughout the season.
· Pinch off onion flower buds from the top of the plants to direct all of the plant’s energy into the developing bulb instead of seed production.
· Pinch out the tips of the climbing shoots of runner beans once they reach the tip of their supports.
· Pinch out tomato sideshoots.
· The blackberry crop is long gone and it is time to remove the canes that bore fruit this year — these will die anyway and you might as well get them out of the way of the young canes supplying next year’s crop of berries.
· Perennials and most woody plants can stand a tip pruning or even a heading-back trim.
· It’s time to stop pinching your chrysanthemums.
· Keep all faded flowers pinched off marigolds, zinnias, cosmos, salvia and geraniums.
· Revive leggy petunias by cutting them back to a height of six to eight inches. Then feed with a water-soluble 20-20-20 according to the label directions. The petunias should be flowering again in two to three weeks.
· Now’s the time to do one last shearing of the evergreen hedges. Growth will be tapering off soon and they probably won’t need attention again until next spring.
· Prune out dead or diseased wood from trees and shrubs. Hold off on major pruning from now until midwinter.
· Trim off faded flowers on crape myrtles to encourage later re-bloom.
· A late-summer pruning of rosebushes can be beneficial.
· Irrigation is the main activity that the gardener has to do frequently in August. Be sure to water thoroughly and deeply each time you water.
· Be sure to check the raised beds, hanging baskets and container-grown plants every day during hot weather and about every second day on moderate summer days. Don’t just check the surface...push your finger an inch or two into the soil to be sure there is adequate moisture below throughout the root area. Water them thoroughly each time you water, but be careful not to overwater them.
· Don’t forget to moisten your compost regularly.
· Remember that camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons have very shallow root systems. Therefore, water them well in dry weather otherwise the flower buds for next year may not develop properly.
· If your grass is dry, do not mow until you have watered or until it rains. Mowing a dry lawn will further stress the turf and expose it to the drying effects of the wind and sun.
· Before you go on vacation try and arrange for a friend or neighbor to water your containers. If they can’t come every day, take steps to cut down on watering requirements by moving all containers and hanging baskets out of the sun as far as possible. Clay pots can be placed on trays filled with wet gravel. If you have a very elaborate summer display with window-boxes and hanging baskets, consider installing an automatic watering system controlled by a timer.
· If you do use chemicals, follow the label directions EXACTLY.
· Fruit trees should be on a regular spray program. Check with your local Co-op store for suggestions.
· To reduce the number of pests on your fruit tree for the coming year, pick up and destroy all fallen fruit.
· If needed, apply a fungicide to the lawn to control turf diseases like brown patch, dollar spot and others.
· After you eat a melon, leave the hollowed out rind turned melon side down in the garden with a small rock under the edge to prop it up a bit. Leave overnight. In the morning, the underside of the rind will be covered with slugs you can kill at your leisure by sprinkling with diatomaceous earth or by sealing in an airtight plastic bag and tossing in the trash.
· Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) is used by many gardeners to protect cole crops from chewing caterpillars.
· Change the water in your bird bath regularly and keep it filled. Standing water is less healthy for the birds and may become a breeding ground for mosquito larvae.
· Clean up fallen rose and peony leaves. They can harbor disease and insect pests over the winter if allowed to remain on the ground.
· Every weed producing seed means more trouble next year. Control weeds before they go to seed. Weeds in the garden are harmful because they rob your plants of water and nutrients, harbor insects and diseases, and, on occasion, grow tall enough to shade your flowers and plants.
· Remove old plants which have stopped producing to eliminate a shelter for insects and disease organisms.
· Spray roses with Ortho Rose Spray to keep black spot and other problems under control.
· White flies are attracted to yellow, so use yellow sticky boards to reduce their populations.
· Kill or remove poison ivy from your property before it goes to seed.
· Do not add weeds with mature seed heads to the compost pile. Many weed seeds can remain viable and germinate next year when the compost is used.
· Cut strawflowers intended for dried flower arrangements when the blooms are only half open. Tie small bundles of the flowers together and hang them upside down in a well-ventilated place to dry.
· Late this month spade or till soil for fall bulb planting; add a moderate amount of fertilizer. Prepare new beds by amending soil with composted pine bark and sphagnum peat moss to a depth of 8 to 10 inches.
· Pick fresh flowers for indoors. This will also encourage more blooms on most perennials.
· Spruce up your summer landscape with beautiful color in containers and hanging baskets. Be sure to use potting mix when planting and a water-grabbing polymer like Soil Moist to reduce the frequency of watering.
· Take cuttings from plants like impatiens, coleus, geraniums and wax begonias to winter over indoors. These are called herbaceous cuttings. Root the cuttings in media like vermiculite, perlite, peat moss or planting soil instead of water. Keep them moist.
· Watch your gladiolas carefully – those with heavy blooms may require staking.
· Don’t be too hasty to maintain the uniformity of your strawberry patch. Let those runners develop into new daughter plants. Keep the weeds under control by applying mulch around these young plants.
· Pears are best ripened off the tree. Harvest pears as soon as color changes, usually from a dark green to a lighter green, and when the fruit is easily twisted and removed from the spur.
· Gather herbs and flowers for drying and preserving. The best time to gather herbs for drying is during the mid-morning hours, just after the dew has dried off the herbs, but before the sun causes them to wilt. Cut the herbs in clusters with the stems attached.
· If any patches of annual flowers have petered out in the heat or been eaten by bugs or animals, hide the bare spot by moving a flower pot over the space. This also works in spots where you’ve got plants that go dormant in summer like bleeding hearts, Virginia bluebells and spring bulbs.
· Raise the cutting height of your lawnmower during the hottest part of summer. The longer blades of grass will provide a little extra shade for the roots of the grass. Thick turf also acts as insulation, helping retain moisture.
· Colorful plastic golf tees can be stuck in the ground to mark the location of dormant plants like spring bulbs or perennials.
· Establish a new compost pile to accommodate the ever-present grass clippings of summer and future fall leaf accumulation.
· Wear safety goggles when using all portable power tools like trimmers, blowers, chain saws, etc.
· When using an electric mower or hedge trimmer always keep the extension cord out of the uncut area.
· Harvest watermelon when the underside ground spot turns from whitish to creamy yellow; the tendril closest to the melon turns brown and shrivels; the rind loses its gloss and looks dull; the melon produces a dull thud rather than a ringing sound when thumped.
· Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we can’t keep up with the harvest. If we would do what the experts say and seed successive crops over a period of weeks rather than planting every vegetable seed on the same day, we could have a prolonged, more manageable harvest.
· You can always tell when onions have stopped growing. The leaves will lose their color, weaken at the top of the bulb and flop over. Time to harvest.
· It’s a great time to add a water feature to your landscape you will enjoy not only this summer but all year round. Creative pools, fountains and waterfalls are on display at your local garden centers, library books and on the web.
· Clear pond water can be achieved with proper plant balance. If the pond is in full sun, 50-70 percent of its surface must be covered with foliage like floating heart, water hyacinth, water poppy, water lily or lotus.
· Tropical water lilies make a spectacular show of color for any water garden. Whereas hardy water lilies bloom only during the day, tropical varieties, considered annuals in this area, include day and night bloomers. This makes it possible to enjoy the bloom in the late afternoon and evening. Day blooming tropical water lilies bloom heavier than hardy lilies; the flowers stay open longer each day and they bloom much later into the season. Night blooming tropical water lilies open their flowers at approximately 5 p.m. and do not close until the following morning around 9. This is perfect timing for those evening barbecues and parties.
· Hummingbirds will be migrating back through during August. Get the feeders ready.