GARDENING TIPS FOR AUGUST by Karen Aitkins
August is traditionally the time for holidays, for getting away from it all and relaxation, hopefully. Plan ahead at this time or your hard work in keeping a well-kept watered garden with colourful bedding plants will all go to waste. You could come back to six inches of grass and dead tubs and hanging baskets. What a shame and what a waste of money. Agree with a neighbour to come in and water and possibly pick any vegetables or fruit that’s ripe and you can do the same for them. Indoor plants can also be left outside to get watered of leave them in the bath with an inch of water in the bottom.
This traditionally used to be the time of long hot dry days, but I’m obviously quite old because for the last ten years or so it seems to be that august has become a very wet month as was June this year. Even so prepare for a scorcher and we may get lucky. I think if we’ve all been industrious with water conservation throughout June we should have more than enough to provide the garden and
possibly all third world countries put together.
Keep the water levels in ponds, water features and bird tables regularly topped up. When watering the garden do it first thing in the morning or early evening when it’s cooler. Spray the plants with water and the fence too, to bring down the temperature.
The grass should need less cutting at this time of year as it grows more slowly so put the blades onto a slightly higher setting otherwise the grass can look a bit scorched. It is not necessary to water a well-established lawn at this time of year as it will recover quite quickly in the autumn. Weeds however will love all the extra watering so you will need to keep on top of them. The best tool to use is a Dutch hoe.
Because of the very damp weather we have been having there is an abundance of slugs and snails. The lusher your garden the more slugs unfortunately. The best way to dispose of them is by hand or with a beer trap, a sunken pot of beer in the earth. If you have to resort to slug pellets please be aware of the danger to birds eating the poisoned slugs.
Prune back lavender with a pair of garden shears, cutting off the flowering spikes to about 2cm or 1inch of the leafy growth to encourage new shoots. Lavender rarely grows again on old wood and if the plant becomes old and straggly it may be better to remove altogether and replace with new lavender.
Trim back hedges towards the end of this month as they will not grow much more after that although conifers carry on growing into October. Most birds have stopped nesting now so it should be safe but still be vigilant for the odd late pigeon. Large leaved hedges like laurel need to be cut with secateurs as hedge trimmers will damage the large leaves and cause them to go brown.
Now we are well into summer let’s hope it’s a dry one with plenty of sunshine like the good ole days. Let’s fire up the barbie, get out the deck chairs, stick a brolly in the pina colada and chill.