August is the beginning of the new spring season. This is reflected in the garden with plants starting to burst forth in new growth and an abundance of blooms. This is the magic of nature at work starting a whole new growth cycle. Work in the garden is vital right now in order to maximise the growth potential of spring. Fertilising the whole garden starts now. Lawns need treating and feeding. Composting and mulching is important. Plants are looking stunning in the nursery, tempting gardeners into more impulsive buying.
- Dead heading is vital in extending the life expectancy of most annual flowers.
- Keep on with watering and fertilising.
- Most spring flowering annuals should be at their best during August.
- Pick cut flowers like Iceland poppies, stocks and snapdragons.
- Keep hanging baskets well watered as temperatures begin to rise.
- Make early sowings of summer flowers in frost free climates. These include cosmos, sunflowers, marigolds and nasturtiums.
- Plant out rhubarb, shallots, garlic and globe artichokes.
- In frost free areas, make first sowings of summer crops like runner beans, dwarf beans, maize, sweet corn, pumpkins and squashes.
- Continue harvesting winter vegetables as they ripen.
- Top dress perennial crops like asparagus and globe artichokes.
- Plant out seedlings of early tomatoes, peppers and egg plants in frost free climates.
- Plant out seed potatoes in rows.
- New season summer and autumn flowering bulbs are ready for planting. These include dahlia tubers, hippeastrums, tigridias, gladiolus, eucomis and galtonias.
- Cut back cannas and other untidy perennials down to ground level. This does not include perennials that have started new spring growth.
- Prune back fuchsias by two thirds of their height when danger of frost is over. They need feeding immediately after cutting back.
- Prune back autumn and winter flowering shrubs like leonotis, poinsettias and hypoestes.
- Water during extremely dry periods. It’s not worth allowing mature trees and shrubs to die from lack of water.
- Apply top dressing and first application of fertiliser. A root stimulating fertiliser like 2:3:2 is advisable.
- A dressing of agricultural lime at the beginning of the growing season helps to improve lawn growth.
- Scarify and aerate deep rooted grass species like kikuyu before top dressing. Do not do this to surface grasses like Berea or buffalo grass.
- Water immediately after this treatment. If not wait until the first rains before commencing with spring lawn care.