There are many Gardening challenges in August and it can become a dreaded chore as you deal with heat, humidity, bugs, little rain, wilted plants and low energy. But if you want to keep your garden thriving, you need to at least maintain the status quo. This is not a time to start new projects! August is the time to protect your plants (and yourself) from the debilitating effects of too much sun and too little water. Before you get outside in August, you need to “suit up” – wear a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and bug spray.
Here are some tips to maintain your garden in August with the least amount of time and effort.
Plants and lawns need about one inch of water a week, and a little more when the temperatures sizzle. In our area we average about 4 inches of rain and 90 degree temperatures during the month of August, so supplemental watering is a primary goal. Water early in the morning before the sun speeds evaporation. Aim at watering roots of plants deeply and thoroughly. A light spritzing from an overhead sprinkler three days a week will not do much good; much of the water will be lost to evaporation. A drip irrigation system is perfect to slowly release water to the roots of plants.
Use Rain Barrels
Capture any August rain in rain barrels attached to gutters on your home and enjoy “free” water to maintain your plants. I use rain barrel water to replenish my plants in containers, which need to be watered at least once a day in the heat of August. Remember to keep rain barrels covered and remove any standing water to prevent mosquito larvae from breeding.
If you are concerned about the cost of watering your lawn in August, consider letting your established lawn go dormant during the heat. It may look brown (dormant) in August but will green up again with autumn rains and cooler temperatures. Stop mowing a heat-distressed lawn or at least raise your mower blades to limit further damage. The University of Georgia Extension Office has a variety of publications on lawn care for your specific turf. Go to extension.uga.edu/publications.
Deadhead And Rejuvenate Annuals and Perennials
While you are watering your containers and garden beds, take a few minutes to deadhead annuals and perennials (remove dead or dying flowers). Not only will deadheading make the garden look less wilted, but it will spur new flower production through the fall. If your annuals have become leggy and bedraggled, cut them back to allow plants to flush out with new growth.
Add New Blooms
Consider livening up your containers with fall blooming annuals and perennials to add some color, life and pizzazz to the August garden. A fresh, new “look” can give you a burst of energy as well! These new blooms will perform well until the first frost.
Weed Quickly and Often
In August, I have a goal to weed early in the morning for five to ten minutes each day. That way, I keep up with the weeds that thrive in the heat but don’t overtax myself and get overheated.
Freshen the Mulch Around Your Plants
Keep a 2-3 inch top dressing of mulch in your planting beds to help retain moisture and cut down on weed production.
Plan for next August!
Can you sit and enjoy your garden in August? If not, make it a priority to plant some shade trees in the fall. Adding an umbrella over a patio dining area or lounge chair and an overhead fan will ensure your garden will be a more comfortable place to sit next August.
You’ve done your tasks, so enjoy a glass of sweet tea and a good book on the porch swing and wait for cooler temperatures!
“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.” – Alfred Austin