August is the month to prepare for verdant spring growth

August is the month for garden gym, when all the gym moves, like weights, stretches, squats and cardio exercise can be put to good use in the garden. In other words, it is time to dig compost into the soil, spike and top-dress the lawn, lift and divide cannas, agapanthus and other summer-flowering perennials, and trim summer shrubs. All that should raise the heart rate, improve circulation, and produce a feeling of well-being. Improve the soil Fork homemade compost into the topsoil around shrubs and summer flowering perennials. Loosen compact soil and pull out roots of invasive creepers or shrubs...
August is the month for garden gym, when all the gym moves, like weights, stretches, squats and cardio exercise can be put to good use in the garden.

In other words, it is time to dig compost into the soil, spike and top-dress the lawn, lift and divide cannas, agapanthus and other summer-flowering perennials, and trim summer shrubs.

All that should raise the heart rate, improve circulation, and produce a feeling of well-being.

Improve the soil

Fork homemade compost into the topsoil around shrubs and summer flowering perennials. Loosen compact soil and pull out roots of invasive creepers or shrubs that are smothering other plants.

Fertilise with 3:1:5 or 5:1:5 for flowering shrubs or 2:3:2 for foliage plants and water regularly to give them a lift-off for spring. Irises will benefit from an application of superphosphate.

Flower garden

Overcrowded clumps of irises, agapanthus, daylilies, cannas and arum lilies can still be lifted, divided, and replanted in early August. Enrich the soil with plenty of compost before replanting.

Start planting summer flowering bulbs such as Amaryllis, Crocosmia, Eucomis, daylilies, Spider lilies and Arum lilies.

Boost the flowering of spring annuals by feeding twice a month with Vigorosa or a liquid fertiliser and increase watering as the temperature rises. Encourage the production of new flowers by removing faded flowers.

Trimming and pruning

Winter flowering shrubs such as wild dagga, ribbon bush and poinsettia can be pruned now. There is still time to prune hydrangeas. Trim and tidy up groundcovers, cutting them back a bit to get rid of any stalky growth.

Spring flowering shrubs like azaleas, rhododendron, magnolia and May bush should only be trimmed when they have finished flowering. Trim evergreen shrubs to reduce their height and get them back into shape.

Wait until deciduous trees start to shoot before trimming or pruning them. This makes it easier to identify dead branches.

Lawns

Scarify Kikuyu, LM or kweek if there is a mat of thatchy, brown undergrowth. Use a steel rake to remove the dead growth. Then, cut it down as low as the lawnmower will go. Apply a lawn fertiliser (5:1:5) and water it in well.

Cool-season grasses like Shade Master, Kirchhoffs Evergreen, All Seasons Evergreen, Shade Over, and Kentucky Blue just need to be fertilised with lawn fertiliser at the end of August and watered well.

Kikuyu lawn can be top dressed, but cool season lawns and LM should not be top-dressed, because the soil on top of the crown will kill it. If there are hollows, fill them with soil and sow seed. Check for compacted areas in the lawn and concentrate on aerating those areas.

It's best to use a garden fork, dig in the length of the tine, wiggle it, and pull it out to loosen up the ground.

Vegetable garden

Improve the productivity of the vegetable garden by making raised beds which provide better drainage and a friable texture that makes it easier for the roots to draw up water, oxygen and nutrients.

Mix additional topsoil, compost, and organics with the existing soil so that the final bed is at least 30cm higher.

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