Gardening Tips-August

By the end of August almost all plants get stressed by the continued Summer heat, with notable exceptions for annuals and tropicals.  Lawns react by going dormant, others wilt visibly, evergreen shrubs may not show any response until winter when they may brown-out for good.  So, for shrubs and bedded perennials that you want to survive, you need to ensure some water every 2 to 3 days.

This is time to enjoy your sitting-out areas!  Shade and seating enough for a few friends go well together, especially to view your own landscape (and maybe consider changes when gardening conditions improve!).  Maybe even a few lawn games with family to pass the time.

The greatest stress occurs from noon to 2 or 3 o’clock, shade at that time is precious.  You might move containers in early July for optimum siting anticipating the challenge, especially as your vacation plans develop.  Unless you have a friend to come by and water while you’re away, you’ll need to consider relocating potted plants into more shady areas for added protection. 

Some perennials go fully dormant in July/August (daylilies, bearded iris) and are best divided or propagated now.


These plants evolved to withstand August stresses, sometimes by storing water in their structures (roots or stems or leaves), sometimes by shutting down evaporation (hairy coatings).  One great reason to include tropicals in your plantings (despite needing to uproot them in winter) is that they continue to bloom through the heat (cannas, dahlias, sedums).

Vegetables & Herbs
You will be rewarded by regular irrigation of your vegetable patch since the plants are eager to convert sunshine into plant material.  Early morning is the best time as most water will be absorbed by the soil then, not evaporated. Watch for slugs sheltering under cooler surfaces e.g. under leaves.

August is prime time for squash harvesting.  By mid-August you might consider to start pinching off some of the flowers on your tomatoes to help promote ripening of existing fruit.

Plant Fall Crops

Mid-August is a good time to start planting your Fall crops like Fall Lettuce, Spinach, Cauliflower, Kale & most root crops.

Grasses do not die in drought but go dormant and readily green-up after steady rain.  Even so, some will decide to irrigate, keeping the green, and hope the water bill is not too much.  Remember though that your lawn only needs about 1″ of water a week.  Best to water it infrequently (2 times a week) but deeply than watering it lightly all week long.  Deep watering promotes good deep roots.

For more information see our pages on Lawn Care and Lawn Pests.

Watch for rabbits, they are highly active in summer and very hungry.  Favorite plants may need to be protected – black netting is almost invisible but leaves your plants safe during high activity periods.