Gardening in August — the jobs to do!

August is a pivotal month, serving as the bridge between the sweltering summer and the cool embrace of autumn. As the summer heat peaks, gardening in August requires a different approach than the other months.  In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide a wide range of August gardening tips to keep your garden thriving despite the […]

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Last update: 24 Jul 2023
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August is a pivotal month, serving as the bridge between the sweltering summer and the cool embrace of autumn. As the summer heat peaks, gardening in August requires a different approach than the other months. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide a wide range of August gardening tips to keep your garden thriving despite the challenging weather conditions. Understanding the August Gardening Climate

The Impact of Heat and Humidity

August’s heat and humidity don’t only affect the gardener but create a favourable environment for insect pests. These pests can include thrips, tomato fruit worms, spider mites, chinch bugs, scales, snails, and slugs, to name a few. Therefore, staying alert for these pests is a critical August gardening tip to remember.

Moreover, these weather conditions also promote plant diseases. Regular inspection of plants is recommended. Remove diseased foliage promptly – and dispose of it properly: keep your compost heap free of diseased plant material. This helps prevent the spread of diseases.

Essential August Gardening Tasks

August calendar
Your August checklist – Image by Marijana from Pixabay

Watering: A Fundamental August Gardening Task

Regardless of location, watering the garden in August remains critical. 

However, this doesn’t mean you need to water daily. Implement deep watering instead, a tactic that hydrates your plants more effectively than hand watering. 

Also, avoid spraying leaves as this can promote leaf-spot fungus and doesn’t typically benefit the plant.

The Importance of Harvesting

Alongside watering, harvesting is another crucial task in August gardening. Many plants will be at their production peak now. 

Failing to harvest can slow down production, leading to less yield.

Effective Strategies for Weed Control

Weeding is an integral part of gardening in August. The growth of annual and perennial weeds can escalate during this period, producing thousands of seeds germinating in your garden the following spring. 

Weed your garden directly after rain when the soil is still moist. If rainfall is scarce, consider thoroughly irrigating your garden the night before weeding.

Proper Pruning Practices

Pruning a bush in August
Pruning a bush

Pruning is a delicate task that needs a strategic approach, especially in August. 

Avoid pruning shrubs after mid-August as it invites new growth that will fail to harden off in time for the cold weather and might get damaged.

Mowing the lawn

Keep mowing your lawn in August. However, if the weather hits peak temperatures, you’ll find that your grass stops growing, so you can miss a couple of regular mows if it’s boiling. 

Avoid mowing when it’s sweltering — your grass will dry out very quickly, encouraging it to turn yellow. 

Embracing Seasonal Gardening: Planting in August

Flowers lined up in a garden centre

Rejuvenating Your Garden: Replacing Annual Flowers

By late summer, many annual flowers may begin to look worn out. 

This is the perfect time to inject fresh life into your pots and planters by introducing cool-season annual flowers to ensure a continuous colour show through the autumn.

Planning for the Autumn: Sowing Cool-Weather Annuals and Perennials

August is also an excellent time to start planning your autumn flowering gardens. 

Start sowing cool weather annuals, such as pansies, violas, and snapdragons. If you plan on using seeds from a seed catalogue, now is the time to start.

Prepping for Cool Weather Vegetables

If you have a vegetable garden, August is the perfect time to start preparations for a cool-season vegetable garden. 

Replace failing or under-performing summer vegetables with cool weather crops such as spinach, broccoli, kale, and chard, which usually produce well into November in many regions.

Dealing with Pests and Diseases in August Gardening

Tackling Insect Pests

An important aspect of gardening in August is looking for insect pests. August can create the ideal conditions for pests like aphids, scale, or mealybugs to thrive. 

These pests often leave a black, almost ‘sooty’ substance on the leaves and stems of hollies and other evergreen plants, a phenomenon known as “sooty mould”. This can be treated with an insecticide, and the mould will eventually wash off over time.

Preventing Plant Diseases

The dry heat and high humidity of August can also lead to outbreaks of powdery mildew on many plants. This mildew appears as a greyish-white powdery substance on the leaves. 

Over time, powdery mildew can affect photosynthesis, reducing plant growth and performance. Treat the problem by pruning affected areas, cleaning debris from underneath the plants. Additionally, apply a multi-purpose fungicide to eliminate any remaining spores.

Preparing Your Lawn for Autumn

Pile of leaves on a lawn after august

The heat and humidity of August can be particularly harsh on your lawn. 

Be sure to adjust your mowers to cut no more than one-third of the height of your grass to limit the damage the heat may cause. 

If you want to get a head start on your lawn reconstruction for the autumn, August is a great time to aerate.

Harvesting in August: Onions, Potatoes, and Herbs

Harvesting Onions and Potatoes

Onions growing in a tray
Onions growing in a tray

August is the ideal time for harvesting potatoes and onions. These crops will be ready for harvest as soon as the plant’s foliage turns brown and falls over. After digging up these crops, cut off dead foliage with pruning shears. 

Then, move onions and potatoes to a shady, well-ventilated location for a week to ten days to cure.

Harvesting Herbs

Although you can harvest herbs throughout the summer, the oils responsible for the most intense flavour and aroma peak in late summer, just before the plants flower. 

Store your herbs by rinsing them under cold water, then chopping them coarsely. Pace them in water-filled ice cube trays.

Enjoy your August Garden

Despite the challenges posed by the August heat and humidity, this month still offers a beautiful experience to the gardener. It’s a time of transition, a moment to marvel at the abundance of summer while preparing for the richness of autumn. 

With the right approach and these August gardening tips, you can ensure your garden survives and thrives during this intense period. Enjoy the fruits of your labour and the beauty of your garden in the warmth of August.

I hope you’ve found this guide on August gardening helpful. 

Happy gardening!

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