TALKING GARDENING with DOUG – August Gardening Chores


So, let’s recap July.  The only complaint I am hearing from homeowners and landscapers is with all the rainy days.  I can agree.  All this rain is leading to an increase in plants dying from root rot and all the fungal issues such as powdery mildew.  With information from Andrew Freiden, NBC weather, we had over 5 and a half inches of rain for July, which is above average.  This puts us nearly 16 inches rain above average for the year.  Some of us have experienced more rain and some less rain than these official numbers  –  all depends on where you live around the Richmond area.  Now, here we are at the beginning of August.  What does Mother Nature have in store for us?  Who knows.  But one thing is for sure – now is the time to get our act together and prepare for the upcoming fall planting season.

You may ask yourself “how is fall a better time to plant than waiting until next spring?”  “What if we have a cold winter like we experienced last year?”  According to the CENTRAL VIRGINIA NURSERY & LANDSCAPE ASSOCIATION, there are several great reasons for planting in the fall:

  1. In the fall, we have cooler temperatures.  However, the soil remains warm and encourages root growth.  With mild weather, roots may continue to grow through the entire winter.
  2. In spring, established roots begin new growth and develop faster than plants planted in spring.
  3. Plant roots have seven to nine months to develop prior to our traditional, hot, and humid summers increasing their rate of survival.
  4. Increased amounts of rainfall and cooler temperatures in the fall provide plants the perfect environment to develop.
  5. In the fall, there are fewer pests and disease problems to interfere with plant development.

I say this every year at this time.  Right now is the time to do a soil test.  I can’t stress the importance of knowing your soil when it comes to the health and performance of plants.  Do a soil test now.  Send the soil off to Virginia Tech and you will have the results back in 2 or 3 weeks – just in time for the fall season.  Soil test kits can be picked up at all Chesterfield Public libraries.  Better yet, I have quite a few kits here.  They are free.  Come to see me and I will be happy to give you a kit.  The cost of a routine test is only $10.00.  This investment in a soil test could save you a lot of money in unneeded soil products.

  • New flower and vegetable seeds are arriving.  Now is the time to get ready.
  • August is the month to aerate your lawn, add lime – if needed, and remove all debris from the lawn in order to ready to follow the S.O.D. program for seeding and fertilizing the lawn.
  • Have peonies?  Late August is an ideal time to dig up and divide peonies.  Be sure to add some Espoma Bio-Tone or Espoma Bulb-Tone in the hole at the time of replanting.


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