Are you wondering about how to keep your summer garden productive and healthy while preparing for the fall season? Here are some August gardening tips and to-dos for your Pacific Northwest garden.
The Seattle area just got through the last week of July with 6 days of temperatures in the 90s while many places in the Pacific Northwest were well into triple digits. Let’s just say that our PNW gardens are not used to excessive heat that lasts for more than a day or two.
Now that things are cooling back down to normal summer temperatures, it’s time to get into the garden to not only keep plants healthy and productive but to start preparing for the coming fall season.
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I’m a self-taught hobby gardener, not a Master Gardener. Everything I share with you on my blog is my personal opinion and things that have worked for me personally.
August Gardening To-Dos
Are you trying to figure out how to not only keep your summer garden healthy and productive but to start preparing for the coming season?
The summer garden is in full swing at the start of August so it’s time to start fall crops, keep watering plants deeply, and continue trying to control weeds, pests, and disease.
Here are some August gardening tips and things to do in the garden this month in the Pacific Northwest.
1. Keep Your Garden Hydrated
August is one of the driest months of the year so it’s important to keep your garden watered.
- Water deep so it reaches the roots of the plant.
- Morning watering is best so the water doesn’t evaporate in the heat of the day.
- If you have to water in the evening, try to water directly into the roots and keep from getting any foliage wet to avoid disease or fungus.
Flower containers, window boxes, and hanging baskets tend to dry out quickly in the summer months. Be sure to water them daily to keep your flowers hydrated, and twice a day when it’s hotter and windier than usual.
2. Deadhead Your Spent Blooms
Deadheading is the removal of dead flower heads from a plant to encourage growth by putting more energy into blooms for the remainder of summer. Be sure to snip off any spent summer blooms on annuals and perennials regularly.
3. Support Tall Garden Flowers
If you haven’t already, support any tall flowers such as dahlias, snapdragons, and sedum autumn joy to protect them from damage due to…
- heavy rains
- their own heavy blooms
Read more about the different methods of supporting your flowers.
4. Prune & Cut Back Garden Shrubs and Plants
August is a good time to prune back any dead growth or diseased areas to help prevent further disease from spreading to the plant.
5. Cut Back & Divide Daylilies
Cut back daylilies after they have gone dormant.
If the lilies are pruned to the ground in the summer they can usually grow back once the temperatures cool and bloom again during the fall season.
You should divide your daylilies at least every 4-5 years. The best time for dividing daylilies in the PNW is from late summer to fall. This will give transplanted lilies time to adjust before the first frost.
It’s time to divide your daylilies if…
- the clumps look overgrown and crowded
- the plant has a lot of brown leaves
- there is a decrease in flower production
6. Harvest Fruits, Vegetables, and Flowers
August always brings a bountiful of ripe fruits and vegetables, as well as beautiful blooms to harvest. The morning is the perfect time to harvest your ripe fruits and vegetables, and your garden flowers when the temperatures are cooler.
Picking fruits, vegetables, and flowers benefit your garden by…
- helping to prevent disease
- promoting new growth
- keeping your garden looking neat and tidy
- preventing ripe veggies from losing their flavor and texture
Harvest leaf vegetables before they bolt and become bitter.
Pick onions when the tops start to fall over. Be sure to stop watering onions when the stems turn yellow to force them into dormancy.
7. Keep Weeds Under Control
Continue to keep up on weeds in the garden in August so they don’t steal water and nutrients from other plants in your garden.
It can be much easier to pull weeds if they are wet, after a rain storm, or by watering them deeply before the task.
If you can’t get to weeding right away, cut off the heads of the weeds to keep them from going to seed.
8. Control Pests and Disease in the Garden
Pests are at their worst in August.
Slugs thrive in moist areas of the garden. Some places I look for these pests are under rocks and flower containers, in overgrown vegetation, and even under large leaves. They generally hide out during the day but come out full force in the dark evening hours.
Continue applying slug bait to areas in the garden where slug’s favorite flowers are such as dahlias, zinnias, and marigolds. I use Sluggo which is safe for pets and wildlife.
Other slug-killing methods include a small container of beer, an evening of slug hunting with a flashlight, and your favorite slug-killing tool,
Use the water spray from a hose or insecticidal soap spray to keep aphids, spider mites, and other sap-sucking pests from your favorite flowers.
Plants are much more prone to diseases in the hot and humid summer months so be sure to inspect your plants regularly. Remove any diseased foliage and dispose of it (never compost) so it doesn’t spread to the rest of the plant. Always wash and disinfect pruners and other tools that have been in contact to avoid spreading disease.
9. Plant and Sow in August
August is the time to start direct sowing salad greens, leeks, green onions, and Swiss chard.
Be sure to order garlic now. I never seem to order it before it sells out.
10. Clean Water Features
Standing water allows mosquitos to breed so be sure to take some time to clean those dirty bird baths and fountains this month.
11. Collect Seeds from This Year’s Garden for Next Year
You can save seeds from many types of plants you grew this summer to sow for next year’s garden.
This has actually worked out well for me because there have been a few times when I’ve loved a certain cut flower and the variety was no longer available.
The best plants for saving seeds are open-pollinated plants and heirlooms because the seeds usually grow into plants that look just like the parent plants.
My friends and I often swap seeds with one another which really cuts down the cost of buying seed packets each year.
12. Order Spring Bulbs to Plant in the Fall
Plan next year’s spring bulb garden now and start ordering bulbs to plant this fall.
It’s definitely not too early to order your spring bulbs in August. Many of the favorite varieties are sold out quickly and the bulbs will be delivered at the time they should be planted in your hardiness zone.
I hope this gives you an idea of some gardening to-dos that need to be done here in the Pacific Northwest for the month of August.
Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time,
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Lynne Zemaitis says
Always so beautiful! Such helpful tips and reminders, Kim! I am heading out to water now!
Thanks for the bulb reminder Kim! Beautiful flowers!
laura in Colorado
Jennifer Howard says
Yes, it’s so hot here too and not enough rain! My flowers are doing OK but my veggies are lousy this year…cold in June and now so hot and dry! My poor puny pepper plants are gonna fall over from the weight of the teeny peppers growing!!!