In cold, windy August, it’s easy to leave the garden tools buried in the shed and hunker down in front of a fire.
But with spring around the corner, Granny Mouse puts in a whole lot of spade work to prepare for a beautiful September garden.
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 they keep their shape, it also helps to increase flowering and stimulates the production of new buds for a second round of colour.
When shaping shrubs, make sure you use sharp 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 in which to put them to good use.
The last month of winter is also a good time to do some weeding. During the cold 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 to reducing the amount of weeds you have to contend with during the growing season.
Use a garden fork to loosen the soil around the weeds so you can easily pull them out by the roots. If you simply tug off the top and leave the roots behind, they will grow back.
August is also an important time to start working on your 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.
Wake up established lawns with a nutritious blanket of organic lawn dressing.
Turn the soil
Another must for August 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 planting and prepare them by turning over the soil and applying compost and bone meal.
If you are buying compost in bulk, make sure it is from a good source. 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.
August is also a good time to rejuvenate roses with some last-minute pruning and fertiliser. If you have gaps, fill them with new varieties.