Tips for creating and maintaining a beautiful garden for August 2011
Summer vacations and back-to-school—Who has time for the garden? If you’ve chosen the right plants, watered and weeded, your garden will make it through August without too much maintenance!
➤ Weeding is still at the top of the priority list; treat your lawn for growing weeds now, according to label directions, and plan to apply a pre-emergent product late in the month so that winter weeds won’t get a chance to germinate. In your flower and ornamental beds, pull weeds before they go to seed.
➤ Cut back annuals in the landscape for continued flowering; if they’re in really bad shape, remove them and replant with new plants. Most annuals will continue to flower late into September and October.
➤ Dead leaves under ornamentals can harbor disease and insects. Clean these up and dispose of fallen leaves, twigs and branches.
➤ Fertilize Bermuda, zoysia and St. Augustine lawns for the last time this year. Don’t apply fertilizer if the temperature is over 85-90º or on a windy day.
➤ Plan for September planting of fescue seed. If you are overseeding, aerate and fertilize the lawn. If you are completely renovating the lawn, in late August, use glysophate to kill all weeds and grass (Be careful not to spray on desirable plants.) Rent a roto-tiller and incorporate composted material, topsoil and fertilizer in anticipation of September seeding.
➤ In general, most flowering shrubs can be pruned after they flower. One example is Hydrangea macrophylla (Bigleaf hydrangea); since next year’s flowers form on old wood, it can be pruned now. Some shrubs bloom on new wood—which will require pruning before the plant’s active growing season begins (abelia, buddleia and panicle hydrangea). Make sure that you know what you are pruning before you begin, or you will run the risk of no flowers next year!
➤ If your mature trees are already dropping leaves, water and mulch them. Large trees need 15 gallons of water for every inch of their trunk diameter—once a week.
➤ Remove dead branches from trees and shrubs. If they didn’t have leaves this year—They won’t next spring!
What to Plant
➤ Late summer/early fall blooming bulbs can be planted in August. Try spider lily, sternbergia, and autumn lilies and crocus. Be sure to use a bulb fertilizer when you plant.
➤ Begin planning your fall vegetable garden now. Start beets, turnips and collards from seed in trays indoor—You can sow bush beans, cucumbers and squash directly into the ground. Wait until cooler weather to plant seedlings of broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.
Mary Kay Woodworth is executive director of the Metro Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association (MALTA). She previously ran Practically Gardening, a landscape consulting firm, and was Master Gardener Coordinator for the DeKalb County Cooperative Extension Service. Mary Kay is a frequent speaker at area schools, garden clubs, civic organizations and trade shows.