Plant a fall crop of peas. The roots of peas "fix" nitrogen into the soil for next spring planting. You can also plant some varieties of snap (green) beans for a fall harvest. Be careful to give extra water to these young plants while they are becoming established. The result will be excellent cool-season garden produce.
It is not too late to set out another planting of many warm-season annuals such as marigolds, zinnias and periwinkles. They will require extra attention for the first few weeks, but should provide you with color during late September, October and even November.
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.
By the end of August, select potted plants of perennials such as Autumn Asters (Aster oblongifolius) or ornamental salvias for excellent fall color. These will become permanent occupants of the flower bed, capable of extended color for several years.
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, half-inch deep and water thoroughly.
Begin seeding new lawns or bare spots in established lawns in late August or, preferably, September. Fall is the best time to repair or start a new lawn.
Sow forget-me-not (myosotis) seeds for January blooms in the cool greenhouse.
Have soil tested for fall fertilization requirements if it has been 3 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 such as Osmocote (a slow-release granular).
Fertilize all water lilies and lotus once a month to keep the plants blooming continuously throughout the season.
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. Don’t prune them in fall so you don’t risk encouraging new tip growth that’s susceptible to browning when the temperatures dip below freezing.
Prune out dead or diseased wood from trees and shrubs. Hold off on major pruning from now until midwinter. Severe pruning at this time will only stimulate tender new growth prior to frost.
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.
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 6-8 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.
A late-summer pruning of rosebushes can be beneficial.
Prune out and destroy blackberry canes that bore fruit this year. They will not produce fruit again and could harbor insects or disease.
Trim off faded flowers on crape myrtles to encourage later re-bloom.
The first part of the month may be the hottest of the year and that is when the lawn may show the most stress. If the cause is just heat and lack of rain, irrigate deeply as early in the morning as possible.
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.
Evaluate the volume of water delivered from lawn sprinklers to ensure healthy, stress-free grass during the heat of the summer. One thorough watering that will deliver one inch of water at a time is better than several more shallow sessions. The amount of water available through flowerbed sprinklers may be checked by placing several shallow pans among shrubs or flowers.
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, 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.
Before you go on vacation, try and arrange for a friend or neighbor to come round and water your containers.
If you do use chemicals, follow the label directions EXACTLY.
Kill or remove poison ivy from your property before it goes to seed.
Hand prune and destroy bagworms, fall webworms and tent caterpillars.
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 such as 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 that 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 that produces 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 that have stopped producing to eliminate a shelter for insects and disease organisms.
White flies are attracted to yellow, so use yellow sticky boards to reduce their populations.
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.
Spade or till soil for fall bulb planting; add a moderate amount of fertilizer.
Establish a new compost pile to accommodate the fall leaf accumulation.
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.
Pick fresh flowers for indoors. This will also encourage more blooms on most perennials.
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 such as spring bulbs or perennials.
Wear safety goggles when using all portable power tools such as trimmers, blowers, chain saws, etc.
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; and the melon produces a dull thud rather than a ringing sound when thumped.
It’s a great time to add a water feature to your landscape that you will enjoy not only this summer but all year round. Creative pools, fountains and waterfalls are on display at your local garden centers, in 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 such as floating heart, water hyacinth, water poppy, water lily or lotus.
Hummingbirds will be migrating back through in August. Get the feeders ready.
When using an electric mower or hedge trimmer, always keep the extension cord out of the uncut area.
Pick beans, tomatoes, peppers and squash often to encourage more production.
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.
Now is a good time to search online for African violets and to order the newest introductions.
Keep fresh feed in your bird feeders.