The Late Summer Garden 

By Barbara Gyarmathy 

The Garden Glory Days are here! August is the time to sit back and enjoy your hard work. But remember to… 

Keep watering!  The garden needs the equivalent of 1 inch of water per week and during especially hot weather, 1 inch every five days. Water deeply one or twice a week, and be sure to include your trees. 

Keep weeding. If you let the weeds flower and go to seed, you will have more next year. 

Check for Japanese beetles.  Control these shiny, metallic, bronze colored beetles by placing a bucket of soapy water or rubbing alcohol beneath the infested plant and knocking the bugs into the bucket. 

For roses, make the last application of a general-purpose rose fertilizer (such as a 10-10-10) around repeat bloomers. 

Irises, peonies and other perennials can be divided in late August and into the fall.  

Deadhead! Cutting back the spent flowers of an annual or perennial, which not only tidies up the garden but may also make room for new flowers. There are three general types of plants to consider when deadheading: 

Perennials such as catmint, bellflower, yarrow, chamomile, coreopsis, phlox, salvia and veronica tend to have a central bloom with several branches that form smaller blooms later. When they’re done blooming, you can cut the entire plant back by a third and wait for a rebloom, or you can remove the large center bloom to encourage the lateral buds to develop into flowers more quickly. Try to cut back to a spot right above a leaf because new buds and branches will likely form at that point.   

Other flowers send up leafless (or mostly leafless) flower stalks from a rosette of basal foliage.   Daylilies, coral bells and irises are good examples. Cut back the stalk to where the foliage begins when all the blooms are done.  Some plants will send up more flower stalks later, some won’t. 

Plants with a mounding habit and produce masses of small flowers such as Moonbeam coreopsis and catmint may benefit from a shearing.  Using pruners, you can take a little off the top, or reduce the plant down to a few inches.  Be sure to leave a little foliage to help plants gather energy and regrowFeed a balanced liquid fertilizer right away and plants will often have a lighter rebloom in a few weeks. 

Cut back straggly annuals like petunias to promote new growth. 

And it’s not too early to begin thinking about next year’s garden!  Begin planning a spring bulb garden and place your orders early. Survey your garden for places to tuck in spring-flowering bulbs, including tulips, daffodils, ornamental onions and others. Two of my favorites are allium azureum (a blue globe) and allium moly (a cheeky yellow). This practice will add color and life to your garden several months before most of your perennials bloom and give you a longer period of gardening satisfaction.   

This is the time to watch for maple tar spots, but don’t worry too much. Initial symptoms on maples are black irregular spots, usually inconspicuous until late summer or early fall.  It is primarily a cosmetic issue that rarely causes any other problems.  The disease is commonly seen on red maples, silver maples and Norway maples. Clean up the infected leaves and place them in the garbage (do not add them to your compost bins.) 

For those of you who feel the lawn in important, water during dry periods by applying 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water per week, and water early in the day to avoid evaporation.  Or better yet, allow the grass to go dormant and only water ¼ to ½ inch of water every two to four weeks to safeguard crowns. It will come back once the weather cools off.   

Mow lawns higher, about 2 ½-3 inches. 

Avoid applying nitrogen fertilizer during hot, dry conditions and avoid using post-emergent herbicides during hot weather when lawns are dormant. 




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