August often seems like summer’s end. The school year starts up again, many industries begin their fall busy season, and grocery stores and retail outlets start stocking their shelves high with “fall essentials.” How long until Starbucks brings back their “Pumpkin Spice Latte?” And when does it become acceptable for homeowners to start putting out Halloween decorations? In truth, Autumn is on the horizon, but August isn’t quite a transitional month. In Southwest Virginia, we are still in the dog days of summer; for the next six weeks or more, we’ll likely continue to garden and landscape in scorching heat, drought, and sun. Our plants and yards need continuous protection from the extreme weather that’s yet to come, but it’s also not a bad idea to start preparing your garden for the end of summer before it sneaks up on us. Here are some August landscaping and gardening tips that provide a balance of future-preparedness and present-prevention:
Give Your Plants an Energy Boost
Plants need energy to survive hot, long summer days. In early August, consider adding another layer of fertilizer. If you’re worried about the scorching heat, top the fertilizer with a 2-inch coating of mulch or organic lawn clippings. This will keep the soil and roots of your plants cooler.
Prune and Crop Seasonal Annuals
Some of your annuals might be starting to look a little worse for wear. Their season isn’t necessarily over; in fact, they probably have a couple blooms left in them. To encourage new growth, remove faded blooms and trim back leaves and stem. Leave the healthy parts of the plant intact.
If you planted any summer vegetables, August is likely to be a productive harvesting month. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil, corn, potatoes, onions, and salad greens are a few of the vegetables and herbs you can expect to harvest before September comes.
Watch for Bagworms
Unfortunately, late summer is often ripe with bagworm sightings. Our crew has already seen these pests on trees and shrubs around the valley. Check your plants, shrubs, and trees weekly for signs of bagworms or bagworm damage (bites and discoloration on leaves, or the formation of large, silky nests). Bagworms can be removed by hand or with an insecticide.
This hot, humid weather can lead to lawn fungus like brown patch. Check your lawn for discoloration or grass death, and mow frequently to ensure grass stays dry and neat. Mowing more towards the evening or early morning will help you beat the heat.
Prepare Your Fall Garden
There are a number of vegetables and herbs you can plant in August: Broccoli, Kale, Spinach, Beets, Spring Onions, Radishes, and Summer Squash are among them. Be sure to plan your plantings ahead of time, and continue to water frequently at the base of plants to prevent against evaporation!
Start Something New
It’s not too late in the season to start a new landscaping or gardening project. The days are still long and light-filled, which makes it a good time to begin a hardscaping install or lawn renovation. Perhaps you’ve taken a vacation recently and are feeling refreshed and excited about mixing things up? You could even decide to build a garden from scratch so it’s ready for next season. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to build a garden from scratch, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous. Ultimately, you should make the most of this warm and fertile season while it lasts. There’s still a lot of summer left ahead.