August Garden Tips
The garden largely takes care of itself in August, though there's always work in the vegetable patch. This is a month of planning for fall and of keeping your eyes open for plants under stress. July and early August has continued the unusual weather pattern of Sonoma summer with cooler temperatures and periodic fog (even inland) interspersed with stretches of heat.
- If you’ve never planted a winter vegetable garden, think about doing it this year. See our Food Gardening section for some inspiration and details!
- Despite the weather, be vigilant about checking for signs of water stress – especially those plants in containers or hanging baskets. An occasional deep soaking benefits most plants, even those that do not require regular water. Make sure that your garden is well-mulched to conserve water and keep plants moist.
- If you want to cut back on your water bill, you can forgo watering your lawn without permanently damaging it. To reduce the stress on the lawn, keep it at about 3” high. Don’t mow it close to the ground or too often. Less is more in drought conditions. Don’t fertilize it, either, as this simply stimulates new growth which requires more water. Better yet, remove turf altogether and plant low water-use plants.
- Continue to deadhead perennials and annuals, especially in containers. The heat of summer – should it ever materialize - will take its toll on some of your annuals and showy perennials. Periodic freshening will keep your containers going through the fall. Heavy bloomers can be cut back and fertilized.
- With major summer chores behind you, continue to check staking on trees, supports for vines, and general structural needs.
- If you plan to be away this summer, ensure that you have someone to water, or set up your irrigation system on automatic timers. When you return from vacation, do a check of the entire garden to make sure that nothing was ignored while you were away.
- Start making a checklist of fall chores – plants that need to be moved or divided, for example, will appreciate you waiting until shorter days and cooler, moister weather. If you want to reduce your water usage in future, make a list of the biggest ‘water-hogs’ in your garden and decide if they are worth it. If not, in fall you can remove them and go shopping for more drought-tolerant replacements.
- Enjoy your garden in August – the heat spells bring warm, balmy nights in most of the County, perfect for sitting out into the twilight. Set up a table in the garden and eat outdoors. Enjoy your morning coffee in the garden in the early morning when the garden smells particularly fresh and inviting.