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Looking for ideas for what to do in the garden in August? Well, look no further as we have compiled a list of garden jobs to keep you busy throughout the month.
Many plants can be propagated in summer from the new growth made during the current season, before it begins to harden. These are known as softwood or soft-tip cuttings.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 3 out of 5 and you will need: Secateurs, rooting hormone powder, pot, compost, cover
Remove a healthy shoot from the plant you wish to propagate. Take a tip cutting about 10cm long, cutting just below a leaf joint where the concentration of natural rooting hormones is highest. You can also take cuttings from the rest of the shoot, without the tip.
Remove the leaves from the lower one third of the cutting. They may rot if they are in contact with damp compost and could infect the cuttings.
Dip the base of the cutting in clean, fresh rooting powder and tap off any excess. Push the cutting into moist, sterile cuttings compost. You can fit several in a pot.
Cover with a propagator lid, plastic bag or improvised cover like this drinks bottle. Place in a well-lit spot out of direct sun. Keep moist. Roots should begin to emerge in 6-8 weeks, when the cuttings can be gently removed and potted separately.
The intense heat of summer can cause problems, like scorch, for the plants in a greenhouse but there are a few easy ways to help them.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Newspaper, Shading Paint, Brush, Watering Can, Horticultural Fleece or Netting
Lay newspaper over cuttings or young plants to shade them from direct sunlight.
Apply shading paint to the panels of your greenhouse. Apply thinly, adding more if necessary.
Damping down the floor with cold water increases humidity and lowers the temperature as it evaporates.
Horticultural fleece or shade netting can be draped over plants or the outisde of the structure. Follow these steps whenever the heat is particulary intense to help stop your plants suffering.
Going on holiday means that you will not be able to water your plants. This might not be an issue for plants in borders but can prove a real problem for plants in containers.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Tray, Plastic Bag, Watering Can, Spade
Stand large pots in watertight bin liners and water them well.
Tie the bag loosely to reduce evaporation.
Plunge pots in the borders. This allows plants to draw up water from the surrounding soil as well as keeping the roots shaded and cool.
Place houseplants in a shallow tray with a small amount of water in the base. Grouping plants together traps hudmidity underneath the leaves reducing water stress.
There is nothing more frustrating than losing a crop to birds after all the time and hard work you have invested in it. They seem to know when fruit is ready before anyone else, so it is worth taking precautions against attack.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Netting, Pop-up Cover, Chicken Wire, CDs
A roll of netting is vital if you realise a crop is in danger. Simply lay it over the plants and secure it in place with clothes pegs.
For a single plant or a short row, a pop-up cover is ideal. These fold flat and pack away when not in use.
For a larger area, it is worth using chicken wire and canes to construct a cage with netting over the top.
Old CDs are useful to scare birds as the sun catches them and they shine. Birds are always alert to attack as they feed, so anything that disturbs them can be used to protect your plants.
When it comes to stunning colour and flower size in the summer, Dahlias perform brilliantly. With a little care and attention, you can have blooms that will be the envy of your neighbours.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Pot, Straw, Cane, Secateurs
Earwigs love Dahlias and will feast on the flowers, leaving notches in the petals and mess everywhere. They feed at night and hide during the day, making them hard to remove. Create a trap by filling a pot with dry straw…
…and placing it upside down on the top of a cane right next to the plant. The earwigs will hide in the straw and you can simply empty the pot each day to get rid of them.
If you want really big blooms, remove competing flower buds from nearby on the same stem.
Remove flowers as they fade. This stops the plant setting seed, which will reduce flowering, and reduces the risk of grey mould as the petals rot.
As they age, Hemerocallis plants (day lilies) become congested and the flower size gets smaller. At this stage, they benefit from lifting and dividing to get rid of the oldest parts of the clump and replant the younger, healthy parts.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 3 out of 5 and you will need: Garden forks, Gloves, Worksheet, Secateurs, Hand trowel, Fertiliser
Lift the entire clump of plants if you can. Shake off the loose soil and lay the clump on a worksheet. Push two garden forks into the middle of the clump, back-to-back and spread them apart to split the clump.
Work through the clump, keeping the parts with strong roots and healthy shoots. Discard the oldest, most woody parts of the roots.
In order to reduce the stress on the parts of the plant you intend to keep, reduce the length of the leaves by two thirds. Having less leaf area to supply with water means the roots can use their energy to re-establish the plant.
Once you have decided how much of the clump you are keeping, replant the shoots. Give them plenty of room to grow and apply fertiliser around them, forking it lightly into the soil surface and watering well to settle the soil and ash the feed down towards the root zone.
As the season progresses, the new shoots on shrubs start to become brown (woody) instead of green. At this point, they can be taken as semi-ripe cuttings. The extra strength means that the cuttings are less likely to wilt before they produce roots.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 3 out of 5 and you will need: Plant material, Secateurs or Knife, Rooting Powder, Pot, Compost, Cover
The ideal cutting from a plant, such as this rosemary, should be 8- 10cm long with 1-2cm of brown stem at the base. The shoot can be cut with clean, sharp secateurs or pulled from the stem with a ‘heel’ of bark attached.
Remove the leaves from the lower third of the cutting by pulling gently. If you have taken the cutting with a heel, trim it back to remove the thin tail.
Dip the end of the cutting in clean rooting hormone powder and tap off the excess. Never put used powder back into its container: just tip enough to use in one go into a saucer and then discard it.
Push the cuttings into a pot of multipurpose compost, water to settle and allow to drain. They will root outdoors or in a cool greenhouse. A cover will help protect them from excess rain as well as increasing humidity around the leaves to speed rooting. Check regularly for watering, as the compost needs to be moist.
It is very easy to think that just putting a plant in the garden means it can fend for itself forever, but soil is a variable medium and may not contain enough nutrients, particularly if it has been untended for a while.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Fertiliser, Hosepipe, Watering can
Where you have established plants like shrubs or fruit, a controlled-release fertiliser will feed them throughout the season. Fork it lightly into the surface of the soil, as it works in moist, dark conditions. Water the soil if there is no rain within 25 hours.
Liquid feed applied through a hose-end distributor is ideal if you have little access to the soil. It is quick-acting and will give flowering plants a boost.
Tomato food is a good source of Potassium, which aids flowering and fruiting of all plants, not just tomatoes. Only apply the recommended dose, measured carefully into the watering can.
Your plants will flower for longer, with bigger and more colourful blooms, if they are well-fed. They will also have a greater resistance to pest or disease attack.
Laying turf to create a lawn gives an instant effect and laying it properly means it will be easier to look after for years to come. Seek out good quality turf, preferably from a specialist and choose a time when the weather is mild and the soil warm.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 3 out of 5 and you will need: Spade, rake, turf, board.
A good lawn is a long-term project, so start with a good base. Good drainage is essential, so dig over (if necessary) to loosen the soil, then rake to level it and remove stones. Add fertiliser and rake lightly into the soil.
Starting at the furthest point, unroll the turf and lay it along a straight edge. It should be green and healthy-looking, not yellow.
Lay brick-pattern, so the joints are staggered and press firmly so each roll is in good contact with the soil beneath.
Use a board to firm the grass and save damaging it or creating depressions. Work loose soil into the joints to help the turves knit together quickly. Water well after laying to stop the turf drying and shrinking.
Moth orchids (Phaelenopsis) vary slightly in their flowering habit. Some produce another batch of flower buds at the tip of the current flowering stem, while others produce side shoots from lower down the stem, especially if you cut the stem back. Occasionally, instead of flower buds, a miniature plant is produced, known as a Keiki (Hawaiian for baby).
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Secateurs, pot, orchid compost, plastic bag, rubber band.
If your plant does not produce more buds at the tip of the flowering shoot, trim it back to just above the top stem bud.
Instead of a flowering shoot, you may get a new plant forming, known as a Keiki.
Once this has grown roots, it can be removed from the parent plant. Take a short section of stem with it, as this helps anchor it into a pot of compost.
Pot it into moist orchid compost and cover with a plastic bag, held in place with a rubber band to keep it humid while it establishes. Within a few weeks, it should begin to grow and can be treated the same as other orchids.
On ornamental plants (not fruit) there are a few basic reasons why you should prune, best remembered as the 4 Ds: Dead, Dying, Damaged and Diseased. Next, remove crossing or rubbing branches, any that have reverted to green and for shape.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Secateurs, pruning saw
Dead wood is easiest to see and remove in summer. Cut back to healthy, pale-coloured wood.
Die-back is common after early pruning where a rogue frost can catch you out. Cut back to just above a healthy bud.
Larger dead stems should be removed with a pruning saw, working very carefully so you do not damage nearby shoots.
Green shoots on a variegated plant should be removed, as they contain more chlorophyll and are stronger. If left, they will take over and you will lose the variegation.
We hope these projects have given you a few ideas and a bit of inspiration for what to do in your garden this month.