Growing Concerns: Keep your garden going strong during dog days of August

August 5, 2018

August can be a difficult month in the garden. The month of July has been hot, and rainfall has been sporadic.

Try these tips to extend the summer season of color and ensure that the landscape looks great year-round.

Water evaporates quickly, especially during the middle of the day, so water flower beds and lawns early in the morning. Keep foliage dry during watering by using drip irrigation, soaker hoses or hand watering underneath the foliage. Wet foliage plus humid weather promotes foliar diseases. Keep the foliage dry.

Extend the bloom season of perennials by deadheading flowers as soon as the blooms fade. Deadheading allows plants to put energy into flower bud production as opposed to seed production, extending the blooming season. Deadheading also eliminates self-seeding and prevents disease and insect problems.

Deadhead, pinch and prune annual plants to keep them blooming into the fall. Continue to fertilize plants to ensure performance through the end of the season.

Keep weeding! I know first-hand that weeding can become a redundant task. Keep in mind that it is easier to pull a few small weeds as opposed to numerous large weeds with a strong root system. We divide the SMART Garden into four zones with a different zone being weeded and deadheaded each day of the week Monday through Thursday. Friday is our catch-up day.

Late summer is the perfect time to divide crowded plants that have stopped blooming like peony, daylily, and iris. Crowded plants are more susceptible to disease and insect problems. Signs of crowded plants include smaller flowers, fewer flowers, and a hole in the center of the plant.

Be vigilant! Continue to watch for pests, both disease and insect. Check plants for pests daily. It is easier to prevent diseases from starting and it is easier to control a small infestation of insects. Keep plants healthy. Healthy plants are less susceptible to disease and insect pests.

If the garden is lacking color, consider adding some perennials that flower in late summer. Late summer bloomers include Russian sage, joe pye weed, coneflower, sneeze weed, and sedum to name a few. Read my column in two weeks to learn more about late summer bloomers.

Late summer is also a good time to plant cool season vegetables. Plant cauliflower, broccoli, spinach and lettuce for fresh vegetables in fall. These cool season vegetables perform better during the cooler fall temperatures.

I raised the mowing height on my mower last month. The longer grass keeps the roots cooler on hot summer days. Mowing in the evening gives the lawn a chance to recover before the heat returns. Keep the mower blades sharp, tearing of the grass blades can increase water loss from the grass plants.

Keep plants healthy is the most important tip for a long season of color.

Days are getting shorter and the end of summer is approaching so take time to enjoy the late summer garden.

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