Don’t let the dog days of summer keep you out of your garden. There is plenty of work to do in August, and if you approach it in the morning or early evening, you may even beat the heat.
Some good old-fashioned maintenance work is needed this month. Cut back hydrangeas that are past their peak and deadhead other faded blooms. Divide bearded iris, removing their woody centers, then replant.
Cut back leggy annuals and perennials, then water and fertilize to encourage fresh, new growth. Tidy up ornamental hedges, and to keep suckers from becoming a nuisance prune them from the base of fruit trees, shrubs and roses.
Watering should also be a priority. Like you, your plants need to stay hydrated when it’s warm and dry. Potted plants dry out easily and may need to be watered daily, especially in San Luis Obispo’s North County.
Avocado and citrus trees will need extra water this month as well. Even established trees, shrubs and perennials will appreciate getting a deep soaking, and it doesn’t hurt to give them a good misting with the hose to wash away pests. While you’re at it, take a minute to check sprinklers and drip irrigation to ensure all your plants are being watered effectively.
This year has been especially dry, so if you live in an area prone to fires, this is a good time to remove dead leaves and branches, particularly from trees and shrubs close to your home. Trim grasses and weeds down to stubble, remove leaves and debris from gutters, and clean up any woody vegetation that is in contact with structures on your property.
You may already be busy harvesting fruits and vegetables, and keeping up with that is very important, but August is also a good time to start preparing for fall crops. Adding a layer of compost now works as an insulating mulch for plants that are still producing and is a good soil conditioner for your next planting project. When all is done, sit down with a nice, cold beverage and start planning your fall garden!
GOT A GARDENING QUESTION?
Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners at 781-5939 on Mondays and Thursdays from 1 to 5 p.m. in San Luis Obispo; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon in Arroyo Grande; or at 434-4105 on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners website at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo or email firstname.lastname@example.org .