August gardening tips

August gardening tips


SPRINGFIELD—You know what they say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!” This saying is true of plant material also. We all know that summer in Illinois is HOT and HUMID! Your beautiful turf starts to turn a nice shade of brown, and the beautiful gardens you had earlier this spring now look, well, not so beautiful.

Believe it or not, there are some plants that actually like the heat and humidity of Illinois in the summer! Native plants such as Purple Coneflower, Black Eyed Susan, sunflowers and grasses such as Little Bluestem, Prairie Dropseed and switch grass all thrive in the hot, humid weather that most of us dread. Other non-native plants such as sedum, daylilies, phlox and other ornamental grasses are great tough plants that will add summer color to your gardens. The Illinois Certified Nursery Professional (ICN Pro) at your local garden center will be able to show you these summer beauties and many more. They will also be able to offer other great recommendations on how to keep your garden looking its best!

l Weeds can become a major problem in July and August. There are many tricks to maintaining a weed-free bed—besides spending hours a day pulling weeds! There are several products available that are very safe and effective. But before you run out to spray everything in sight—check with your ICN Pro. They will be able to tell you what products will be most effective in your situation. It will save you time and money.

l Supplemental water will be necessary in your new landscape beds and any beds that lie under overhangs. Your established beds probably won’t require any supplemental water—however, if the soil is very dry, it would be beneficial to give the bed a good soaking.

l Keep your mowing height up! Raising your mowing height increases the vigor of the turf. A more vigorous turf is more tolerant of dry conditions, and more able to compete with weeds. Never apply weed sprays or fertilizers to your lawn in the summer months. If you have weeds that you believe need treatment, contact the ICN Pro at your local garden center for recommendations on timing and types of applications that need to be made.

l Bulbs will be arriving at your garden center in late August or early September. Plan now for where you will plant them. Bulbs work beautifully when combined with perennials and ground covers. For companion planting suggestions, contact the ICN Pro at your local garden center. They will have many ideas of how to use bulbs effectively in your landscape.

l Cut back annuals and perennials when they begin to look “ratty.” Spent blooms can be cut off, and brown leaves can be trimmed back. This year we have seen an abundance of powdery mildew and other great fungi–if you see something that concerns you, snip off a piece and take it to your local garden center and ask your ICN Pro for their diagnosis.

l Fall mums and pansies will be arriving at your garden center in late August. Chrysanthemums are the traditional fall flower. These hardy plants come in many different colors and can be planted just about any time—just be sure to mulch them. There are many new and improved pansies available now. Some can be planted in the fall. They will go ahead and bloom in the fall and then survive the winter and come back to bloom the next spring! For more information regarding mums or fall pansies, contact the ICN Pro at your garden center.

l Remember that it is not too late to plant. Whether you want to establish a new perennial garden, re-do your foundation planting, plant a tree, or just need some ideas that will spruce up your yard, the landscape designers at your local garden center are ready to help you. Remember that you can plant successfully until the ground freezes in December.

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