August Landscape To-Do List

August Landscape To-Do List

There are many things to do in the Cape Cod garden in August, as well as a few things you don’t want to be doing. Here is a checklist for landscape care at the end of summer.

To Do:

  • Pulling weeds. All the heat-loving weeds are thriving at this time of year. Pull crab grass, purslane, and carpet weed wherever they pop up. (Note: purslane is not only a pesky weed, but a nutritious edible salad green. See this post by forager Ellen Zachos to learn more.)
  • Deadhead butterfly bush. Clipping off the browning flowers on Buddleia will improve the look of the shrub and stimulate new flowers to form.
  • Clip down finished daylily stems. Once a daylily stalk has stopped flowering the plant will look better if you cut those stems down near the ground. The round, hard pods on some stems are often mistaken for new flower buds: these are seed-pods and can be removed.
  • Clip any yew shrubs that have put out thin new growth. This should be a light trimming only, not a heavy pruning. (See below.)
  • Refresh containers that have stopped flowering. If your boxes or pots have slowed in flower production or are suffering because they’ve dried out or been kept too wet now is a great time to add new material that will continue to bloom into the fall.
  • Cut old flowers from zinnias, dahlias and marigolds to stimulate more blossoms.
  • Clip long stems of petunias, verbena and scaevola in half. Since these flowers produce blooms at the end of their stems periodically cutting them back stimulates better branching and more bloom.
  • Clip off browned hydrangea flowers. This will improve the look of the plants and if you have a variety that repeat flowers it will help stimulate new blooms.

Not To Do

  • Avoid heavy pruning. Since pruning always stimulates growth this is the worst time to prune shrubs. The new growth that is promoted at this time of year won’t have time to develop and harden off before the winter. Wait until late-fall or early spring for most pruning.
  • Over fertilize. Although annuals and vegetables can be fertilized at this time of year it’s not the best time to feed perennials, shrubs or trees.
  • Work in hot weather. Stay out of the sun at the hottest part of the day. If the weather is very hot and humid, limit gardening to the early morning and be sure to stay well hydrated. Wear sunscreen and bug repellant if needed.
  • Hand water. Unless you’re sprinkling newly planted seeds or small plants, hand watering doesn’t soak the soil deeply enough to do much good. If established plants are dry water deeply once a week. It’s impossible to recommend a set length of time that you should water since irrigation systems, sprinklers, and soils vary so greatly. In general, however, you want to water long enough so the soil gets soaked down twelve inches. Run your irrigation and then dig a hole to check how deeply your soil has been moistened.
Clip off browning flowers by cutting the stem just above a set of leaves or other stems. If you do this into the fall you’ll have repeat flowering and attract many butterflies.

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