Nobody likes a to-do list, but anybody with a garden is constantly working to one. Each season, and each month, brings with it a new set of challenges to tackle or prepare for. July and August are the months that we’re typically spending the most time in our garden, but eventually we have to step away from the barbecue and sun-loungers and get down on our hands and knees in the soil.
Every garden is different, but here are the common chores for mid-summer in English gardens:
Hydration and irrigation
Let’s be honest, we live in England, so summer doesn’t always mean heatwaves and droughts. However generally, your garden will need watering throughout summer – and this should be done as early in the day as possible to allow your soil to warm up before the evening. Don’t be tempted to water the surface lightly, otherwise your roots can become stunted from lack of hydration at their tips. The soil should be damp even 4 inches deep.
Don’t neglect your hanging baskets and containers, push your finger in and check that there’s enough moisture below the roots. Water deeply, but be careful not to saturate plants that are in contained soil.
Annuals and perennials
First job: pick the dead annuals and the wilting perennials. This isn’t just aesthetic, it will delay your flowers from seeding and encourage them to flower for longer each season. August is the month to sow perennial and biennial plants, but if you don’t find the time then early September will still give them a great chance to take hold. The same applies for container-grown: but make sure that you’ve getting enough compost and manure into these.
Any perennials that you’re hoping will flower next spring can be divided or transplanted from now, but tackle this during morning or evening (when cool) and water deeply in new containers. Prune up to a third of any rose growth towards the end of August, including removing crossed and weak stems. Fertilise them through August and September, staying on top of your pest control.
Many people panic when they see brown patches on their lawn, but brown doesn’t always mean dead. Many domestic grass types go dormant during summer, heat and drought – but can be restored once the rains start again. Of course you can circumvent this by taking the role of autumn rains on yourself – water your lawn deeply and weekly to keep it green throughout the year. You may also want to lift the cutting height of your lawnmower, allowing the grass to grow a little taller to keep the soil moist for longer.
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