August in the Garden – guest blogger Annette Presseau (Billerica Garden Club)

As summer winds down, it’s time to prepare your garden for the soon to be changing season. 

Now is a great time to spot clean your garden and what I mean by that is to do some targeted trimming, mulching and edging which will make for great enjoyment into late summer and fall by reducing hiding places for pets and disease and in reality it’s just a head start for fall cleanup, one spot at a time.  Now is also a good time to take photos of your garden so that next year you can see what worked and what didn’t work.  Forget about watering your lawn which will bounce back when cooler, moister days return just concentrate on clearing up the dry spots and your lawn will come back next year fine.

Flowers

DAYLILIES can be dug and divided as they complete their bloom cycle, right into fall, if needed.

PEONIES are best divided and transplanted in late August through September, if they need it. Remember with these fussy guys that “eyes” must not be buried more than an inch or two beneath the soil surface.

MANY POPULAR ANNUALS can be overwintered as young plants if you take and root cuttings now rather than try to nurse along leggy older specimens. Geraniums, coleus, wax begonias, even impatiens (to name just a few common ones), if grown in good light indoors and kept pinched and bushy, will yield another generation of cuttings for next spring’s transplants.

MANY PERENNIALS and biennials can still be started from seed if you hurry, then set out in the fall into nursery beds.

DEADHEAD FADED PERENNIALS and summer bulbs unless they have showy seedheads, or you want to collect seed later (non-hybrids only).

ORDER FLOWER BULBS for fall planting to get varieties you want, often at an early shopping discount.

PREPARE NEW beds for fall planting by smothering grass or weeds with layers of recycled corrugated cardboard or thick layers of newspaper, then put mulch on top.

GARDENS NEED an inch of water a week from you or the heavens so unless you put a soaker hose or some other way to water at the roots remember to soak deeply in the root zone, don’t spritz things with a sprayer now and again like you’re washing the car. That’s a garden no-no. Check your rain gauge to make sure they get the amount of water that is needed.   Pots need extra attention, especially smallish ones in sun, and they also need regular feeding.

House Plants

If houseplants need repotting, do it now, while they’re still outside (less messy than in the house). Don’t step up more than an inch in diameter (on small pots) or a couple (on large ones). Most plants don’t like to swim in their containers.

Happy Gardening!

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