GARDEN TIME with DOUG – August Gardening Thoughts and Tasks


Before looking at tasks to accomplish in August, let me do a re-cap of July and the weather. Probably can sum up July with two words  –  hot and dry. We have been a little below average for rainfall in July. Couple this with the hot days and our ground soil is now dry. We could use some rain. It seems that August is going to start with some rainy days. The nice thing for us is that our rivers, streams, reservoirs, and underground aquifers are all in good shape.


  1. LAWN CARE  –  The lawn care season starts now. I can’t stress enough the value of doing a soil test right now on your lawn. This soil test will give you valuable information as to the basic lime and fertilizer needs. Soil test kits should be available at your local county agriculture extension service. Here are some phone numbers to local county extension service:
    1. Chesterfield County: (804) 751-4401
    2. Henrico County: (804) 501-5160
    3. Powhatan County: (804) 598-5640
    4. Hanover County: (804) 752-4310
  2. In Chesterfield County, soil test kits are available at all local county libraries. Or, come see me. I have quite a few kits to give out to anyone who asks. Test results will come back to you from Virginia Tech in 2 or 3 weeks. This is why you want to have the test done in August.
    1. Lawns like pH at 6.2 – 6.5.
    2. Core aerate your lawn in August.  Core aeration loosens the compaction of the soil and allows oxygen to the soil.
    3. Grass clippings are 90% water and break down quickly – fescue grass clippings do not contribute to thatch.
    4. Leaving your grass clippings on your lawn each time you mow can provide the nutrients equal to one fertilizer application.
  3. FALL IS FOR PLANTING  –  August is a great month to get organized as to what you want to do to your lawn and garden come September. You may as “why is fall a good planting season?” 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 the fall, 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.
  4. New fall flower and vegetable seeds will be arriving soon.
  5. August tends to be a hot and dry month for us in Central Virginia  –  stay on top of the watering needs of the plants. Best time to water is early in the morning in order to reduce the loss of moisture to evaporation.
  6. Spider mites like hot, dry weather. Be sure to inspect your needled evergreens, such as Dwarf Alberta Spruce and other conifers. Indications of a spider mite infestation are the browning of the evergreen and a decline in health. Here is a simple tip on how to determine that your plant may be infested with spider mites: use a white sheet of paper and shake the plant so that needles fall on the paper. Closely inspect the debris and look for small, microscopic dots moving around on the paper. The mites could be either red or black in color. If you detect mites than spray the plant with a miticide. As always, be sure to read the instructions carefully and apply the chemical according to these instructions.


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