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Garden Maintenance: AUGUST

Top jobs for August

1. Prune Wisteria.
2. Mow regularly but raise the cutting height during dry spells.
3. Dead-head flowering plants regularly.
4. Trim hedges to limit the work needed later in the year.
5. Collect seeds from favourite plants.
6. Start to think about any repairs sheds/greenhouses need before the rains come.
7. Lightly prune shrubs after flowering to keep them neat.
8. Keep ponds and water features topped up.
9. Don't let plants dry out! New plants especially need a lot of water. Use recycled rain water whenever possible.
10. Remember garden hygiene; clear fallen leaves and keep the garden tidy.

Lawn Care

- Although many people like a short lawn; the important thing is an even cut. Raising the cutting height during dry spells will help the lawn retain moisture and cope better in the heat.
- Mulching mowers cut the grass up extra fine leaving the cuttings on the lawn to act as a natural fertiliser and also helping to retain moisture.
- The lawn may go brown; this is very common at this time of year. Don't worry too much it will recover when the rains come. However, this can be prevented for next year by ensuring that the lawn is well scarified and aerated later in the year.
- The lawn feed you use should be suitable for the season; having an appropriate balance of Nitrogen, Phosphates and Potassium. This is probably your last chance to use a high Nitrogen feed (for lush, green lawn). Autumn/winter feeds will focus on feeding the roots so they are strong during the winter.

Trees, shrubs and climbers

- Evergreen shrubs such as Hebes and lavenders can be given a light prune after flowering.
- Prune Wisteria after it has finished flowering. Prune shrubs such as Pyracantha also after flowering.
- Rambling roses can be pruned back after flowering.
- Many hedges will also benefit from a light trim to keep them tidy to avoid a lot of work in the autumn when growing starts to slow.
- Continue to deadhead shrubs, such as roses, to extend flowering into early autumn. Spindly specimens that have lost leaves can be cut back a little further when deadheading, to encourage new growth.
- Shrubs that flower early in the year such as Camellia and Rhododendron should be kept well watered even after they have finished flowering; how you treat them now will affect their blooms next time.
- It's not too late to increase your stocks of box, Ceanothus, lavender etc by taking cuttings; Do your friends have any of these that you could take a cutting from?
- Black spot on roses is very common at this time of year but it's too late to spray them; simply clear up any fallen leaves to try and limit its spread.

Flowers

- Don't forget to look after your hanging baskets - deadheading faded flowers, watering and feeding will prolong the display. Containers will also need a weekly feed.
- In fact, Deadheading bedding plants and other plants such as Dahlia, rose and Penstemon will prolong the display well into early autumn.
- BUT don't cut the flowerheads off ornamental grasses as these will give you something to look at in the winter!
- Remove fading stems and leaves from Geraniums to encourage new growth. This should not be a hard prune a little can have a large effect.
- Irises have finished flowering so now is a good time to increase your stocks by dividing the rhizomes and planting them elsewhere in your garden.
- Most perennials can be divided now once they have finished flowering but keep them well watered until they have established.
- Annuals and perennials only flower for one or two seasons and then die off. They propagate by dropping seeds. If you like them why not collect the seeds now and spread them yourself in the autumn. Good examples are Cerinthe, Calendula, Nigella, Papaver, Geranium and Aquilegia.
- Most perennial weeds are best dealt with when they are actively growing because the weed killer relies on the liquid being taken into the plant (the weed thinking it is being given a drink). This will ensure that the roots are killed along with the leaves.
- Towards the end of August sow seeds of hardy annuals directly into borders (visit your garden centre to see what's available). The seeds will survive the winter and flower next summer. Of course, you will need a well prepared seed bed set aside for this purpose so you know what should be growing and what should not!

Greenhouse and houseplants

- If you have been keeping Cyclamen in the greenhouse these can now be encouraged to wake up by watering and adding a layer of additional compost.
- If you are lucky enough to see some sun this summer then remember to open doors and windows on your greenhouse to stop temperatures getting too high and dampen the floor with a hose pipe to keep humidity levels up.
- Remember garden hygiene; pests and plant diseases are most common in high temperatures so regularly clear up fallen leaves and generally keep your garden tidy.

Ponds

- Remove faded leaves on aquatic and marginal plants cutting back where necessary.
- Keep an eye on water levels; if going on holiday ask someone to keep an eye on your pond. A water fountain will help aerate the water.
- Remove blanket weed and duckweed where this is a problem.

Soft Landscaping

- Pressure wash paths and patios to remove moss and algae that could become slippery in the winter.
- Think about any repairs that are need for sheds and greenhouses now before the rains start.
- If you get any dry weather paint fences, sheds etc with a preservative. Check the product is still legal as many of the old oil-based products are no longer approved; your gardener will have a list of banned chemicals.
- Can you recycle more of your garden cuttings? Log and twig piles provide valuable shelter for wildlife. - Be creative use them to create a features by planting up with ferns, primroses etc.

Wildlife

- You may see willow or garden warblers, house-martins, swifts and swallows. A birdbath can be a vital source of drinking water for birds. Ensure that yours is kept topped up.
- Many bugs are beneficial and should be encouraged. Without them many flowers would fail to pollinate, set seed or produce fruit.
- It is the breeding season of Damselflies and dragonflies. Hoverflies and ladybirds are also in abundance this month. Hoverflies do not sting although they look a little like wasps - this is just their defensive camouflage to deter predators. Planting marigolds around vegetables will attract hoverflies as pest control.
- However, this is peak bat-watching season as they are active and garden friendly, eating midges and tiny insects that annoy us!
- Frogs, toads and newts, are now leaving the pond, usually at times when the ground is damp so be careful with your lawn mower!
- Unfortunately, this is flying ant season, when they fly up in the air to mate.

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