August in the Garden
In August, it’s easy to leave the rake and the fork buried in the garden shed and hunker down in your warm sitting room rather than venture out into your dry and cold winter garden.
However, as we have found at Granny Mouse, with spring just around the corner, the spade work done during the month of August can prepare the way for the beginnings of a beautiful garden in September.
During the month of August, you’ll find our Granny Mouse gardeners pruning trees and shrubs to prepare for new growth.
Annual pruning is essential for removing dead wood, cutting back overgrowth and giving trees and shrubs a healthy start for the flowering season. Pruning shrubs not only beautifies them and ensures that they keep their shape, but even helps to increase flowering and stimulates the production of new flower buds for a second round of colour.
Early pruning also gives the cuts time to heal.
When shaping your shrubs, make sure you use a sharp pair of trimmers. Cut half a centimetre away from the leaf node which ultimately sprouts new growth and will grow in the direction of the cut.
Don’t throw away larger branches, you will find plenty of recycling and DIY projects for putting cut branches to use.
We also take time out to do some weeding during the last month of winter. During the winter months, when most bedding plants have died down or are resting, you have a better chance of spotting and pulling out persistent weeds when they are still small.
Although it’s not possible to have a completely weed-free garden, taking the time to remove weeds properly goes a long way and can reduce the amount of weeds that you have to contend with during the growing season.
We use a garden fork to loosen the soil around the weeds so that we can pull them out easily by the roots. If you simply tug off the top of a weed and leave the roots behind, they’ll just simply grow back.
August is also an important time to start working on your spring and summer lawn. Raking – or ‘scarifying’- your lawn will remove dead growth and winter debris and bring light and air to the soil to encourage lush, green growth.
Any bare patches in the lawn can be re-seeded by loosening the soil. Keep these areas well-watered until seeds germinate and new grass establishes itself.
At Granny Mouse, we give our established lawns the “spring treatment” and wake them from their winter rest with a nutritious blanket of lawn dressing prepared in our own compost heap. Alternatively, you can purchase a good, organic lawn dressing at your local garden store and spread it according to the instructions on the pack.
Another must for August gardeners, is enriching the soil to prepare for summer flowers. Dip into your compost patch and mulch all flower beds where bulbs or perennials are about to sprout. Identify areas for new plantings and prepare them by turning over the soil and applying compost and bone meal.
If you are buying compost in bulk, make sure that it is from a good source as many gardeners have found that compost that is filled with weed seeds and spores can introduce a plague of new weeds to a garden.
In warmer areas that aren’t prone to frost, late August is also a good time to plant spring bulbs and spring and summer annuals such as pansies, petunias, lobelias, dianthus, begonias, gazanias and alyssum.
At Granny Mouse, we also find that August is a good time to rejuvenate our roses with some last minute pruning and fertilizer. If we spot any gaps, we head off to our nearest garden centre to find some new varieties.