What to Do in the Garden in August

What to Do in the Garden in August
Loading... 14 view(s)
What to Do in the Garden in August

August is One of the Warmest Months, So Your Summer Garden is Likely in Full Swing.

While you probably feel busy keeping up with all of the summer gardening activities, and back to school chaos if you have school age kids, you shouldn’t hesitate to start thinking ahead. Although it’s nice and warm right now, the fall growing season is just around the corner. We’ve put together all of the gardening tasks that you need to accomplish this month.

Planning Ahead

Are you ready for the summer heat to disappear? If you’re tired of pulling weeds, fighting pests and watering your plants, you’re in luck. Summer will come to an end before you know it. The fall growing season is just around the corner, which means you need to start planning for your next season of gardening.

Many flowers and plants bloom in the summer and then quickly die back once the temperatures hint at cooling off. If you’re not ready to lose the color in your yard, you’ll want to plant some fall blooming plants. Mums are a fall classic, and for good reason. These plants put on blooms that will encase the entire plant in deep, rich color. Did you know that mums are perennials in many places? You’ve probably only seen them in containers, but if you plant them in your flower beds, they will come back year after year, providing you with spectacular fall color.

Now’s the time to start seeds or direct sow some of the seeds for your fall vegetable garden. Have you thought about growing fall veggies? If not, you should consider growing some of the cool season crops. You’ll keep your vegetable garden producing longer. Fresh, homegrown vegetables are hard to beat!

Perennial Maintenance

Do you have perennial flowers or bulbs that you meant to divide up this spring but didn’t get around to it? Many perennial plants need to be divided every few years to keep them healthy and full. Now’s the perfect time to catch up on any perennial maintenance. Dig those perennials up and split them. Dividing them now gives them time to adjust before the cold weather sets in.

You can also plant new perennials this month. Fill empty spots in your flower bed with lilies, perennial daisies, irises and dahlias. They won’t bloom this fall, but next year you’ll have a full flowerbed that is filled with colorful blooms.

What to Do in the Garden in August Based on Your Zone

Zones 3-4

It’s time to start winding down your summer garden in these cooler climates. Continue to harvest from the plants that are still producing. Did you have plants that produced particularly well? Save the seeds from them for next year. The easiest way to do this is to allow the plant to naturally die back instead of pulling it up out of the ground when the season ends. This allows the seeds to mature properly. Save seeds in a cool, dry place this winter and you can use them next season to start your garden.

Do you have perennials that you’ve been watering this summer? Now’s the time to cut back on that watering to get them ready for colder weather. Start cutting back on how often you water your perennials to help them start hardening off for winter.

Frost can come early here, so make sure that you are prepared. Have cold frames or row covers on hand to protect your plants from an early cold snap. If you don’t have cold frames or row covers, now’s the time to order them. In a pinch, bed sheets or towels will work. Keep an eye on the local weather to make sure your plants are covered in case of a frost.

Zone 5

There’s a lot of work to be done to wrap up your summer garden and prepare for fall. Continue to harvest your summer garden as long as possible. You’ll miss those fresh tomatoes and summer squash when they’re gone! While you’ll still get some harvests out of your vegetable garden, you need to plan ahead for your fall crop. Now’s the time to sow seeds for some of your fall root crops like turnips and beets.

Do you have fruit plants? This is the perfect time to do some maintenance with them. Blackberries and raspberries will have canes that have died back. Prune those dead canes off to help them be more productive next year. If you’re training your canes to grow up a trellis or down a support row, take the time to secure them to the support after you’ve trimmed the canes. Getting this done now will ensure that your berry canes can thrive within the space you want them to grow in next year.

Perennials can be divided up this month. Not only can you divide up your blooming perennials and any overgrown perennials in your flower beds, but you can also divide up strawberries. Make sure that your strawberry plants have plenty of space. The plants that spring up from runners can be separated and placed into a new bed.

Zones 6- 7

August is a hot month in these growing zones. Make sure that you’re keeping up with the water needs of your plants. Watering deeply a few times a week is a much better option than watering lightly each day. Plants that need water will have dry soil and droopy leaves. A deep watering should perk those plants right back up.

You can direct sow seeds this month for your fall garden. It’s the perfect time to sow seeds for leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. If your summer garden is still going strong, sow the seeds for your fall crops in between your summer crops. This will help to give your fall crops some shade early on and you’ll still be able to harvest from your summer crops.

It’s also the perfect time to plant any spring blooming bulbs. Plant these bulbs now so that they have time to become established. If you wait around and plant them in the spring, you probably won’t get the spring blooms that you were hoping for until the following spring. Buttercups, irises and tulips are some of the earliest blooming flowers that will bring your yard and garden back to life next spring.

Zone 8

The further south that you go, the longer the summer growing season is. Gardeners in Zone 8 still have plenty of summer growing season left. In fact, in many areas, you can still transplant summer vegetables and get a harvest before the cold sets in. Some of the faster growing summer crops can be direct sown into the garden this month.

August is one of the hottest months here, so make sure that you’re keeping your plants cool and well-watered. If the sun is intense where you are, you can cover your garden and crops with shade cloth to help cool them down. Even tough summer favorites, like tomatoes, will start dropping blooms when the temperatures are too hot. Shade cloth can help keep your plants producing even in extreme heat.

Are you growing herbs? This is the month to start harvesting them and preserving them. Always harvest your herbs during their peak to get the most flavor and nutritional value from them. Prune back your herbs and harvest them slowly to encourage additional growth.

Zone 9

The August sun can be brutal in Zone 9. You may have noticed that production has slowed down or stopped on many of your summer garden plants. You might have also noticed that it’s getting harder and harder to keep your plants watered enough. If that sounds like you, put a shade cloth over your plants. A shade cloth can drop the temperature by as much as 20 degrees Fahrenheit, which will put your vegetables back into production mode.

August is the perfect time to plant spring bulbs. It’s also the best time to plant garlic. Both spring bulbs and garlic will become established over the winter, waking up in the spring to produce. Your spring bulbs will put on gorgeous blooms and your garlic will produce heads of delicious, aromatic garlic that you can harvest in the spring.

Any citrus plants that you have should be fertilized this month. You’ve probably been busy harvesting from them lately, but don’t forget to fertilize them after you’ve wrapped up your harvesting. Fruit production will pull a lot of nutrients from the plant and the surrounding soil, so be sure to replenish those nutrients with compost or fertilizer.

Zone 10

Not only will your plants benefit from shade cloth this month, but if you have a compost pile or a composter, it will benefit from shade also. A good compost pile will naturally heat up due to the anaerobic microorganisms that live in it, but if the compost gets too hot, it will essentially cook the microorganisms that break down the compost. Move your composter into the shade or cover your compost pile with shade cloth.

Speaking of compost, this is the perfect time to sift through your compost and remove any that is ready to go in the garden. Apply compost to your flower beds and garden to add nutrients and beneficial microorganisms back into the soil. The summer growing season has likely pulled a lot of nutrients from the soil and compost is a great way to add those nutrients back.

Looking to make a new garden or flower bed? You can use the intense summer sun to help you clear out a space this month. If you have a certain spot in mind, take some black plastic and lay it on the ground where you want your new flower bed or garden to go. Anchor the plastic to the ground and let it sit there this month. The sunlight will be absorbed by the plastic, killing all of the weeds and grass underneath. When you pull up the plastic, you’ll have a clean slate to work with.

Zone 11

Have you been harvesting like crazy this summer? So many plants thrive year-round in this Zone, so lucky you! If your current garden is dwindling down, you can direct sow seeds for your next garden. It’s also a great time to look for fun, tropical plants like bananas, papayas, mangos and pineapples.

Reflecting on Your Garden

As your summer garden starts to die back, take some time to think about how your garden went this year. If you don’t keep a garden journal, we highly recommend that you do. Write down which varieties and crops thrived this year. Make note of ones that didn’t so you don’t buy those again. It’s also a good idea to write down which plants had issues with pests, disease or produced a bumper crop.

All of these notes will help guide you in the following seasons to make smarter, more informed decisions about your garden. There’s so much that goes on with your garden each year that it is nearly impossible to remember all of it from year to year. Consider your garden journal your personal reference guide to improving your garden.

And if you haven’t yet, take the time to appreciate all of the beautiful plants, blooms and delicious produce that you garden has provided you this year.