August - means holiday time!

There’s still plenty that can be done that will help you keep your garden looking great right through summer.

You might need to enlist the help of friends and family to look after the garden if you are away, as it is often one of the driest months of the year with high temperatures, meaning watering becomes a critical activity to give plants a helping hand in the heat.

Shrubs

Lavenders need to be pruned after flowering. Cut back to about 1 inch below the flowering stems, but don’t cut into old brown wood. The same can be done with Hebes.

Camellias and Rhododendrons in pots need regular watering as they are setting flower buds for next spring. If they dry out it means fewer flowers for next year’s displays.

Complete pruning of early summer flowering shrubs such as Weigela and Philadelphus, once they have finished flowering to improve next years display. Cut out dead and broken branches and others back to strong new growth.

Hedging

August is the month to cut all hedges and this not only prunes them and holds them to size and shape, but it also freshens up everything and restores a crispness that adds form to the garden for the coming months. Yew hedging is best trimmed once a year in August/ September. If renovating a yew hedge its best to cut the top down in mid spring.

Conifer hedges trimmed after August can encourage bare patches.

Climbers

Finish pruning wisteria if not done so already (see July tips).

Roses

Continue to dead-head shrub roses to extend flowering into early autumn.

Spindly specimens that have lost their leaves can be cut back quite hard when dead- heading to encourage new growth.

Rambling roses can be pruned now, once they have finished flowering.

They flower on last year's wood so there are two stages to dealing with them. First you need to cut out much older wood to the ground to encourage new growth and cut side-shoots that have flowered back to 2-3 buds from the main stem. Second, any new wood should be tied in ready to flower the following year.

Wild roses should be left as they are in the hopes that their spent flowers will produce beautiful hips in the autumn.

Black spot on roses is very common at this time of year, and spraying will no longer be effective. Clear fallen leaves and burn them to prevent spread.

Herbaceous Perennials

Continue to cut back spent flower stems and foliage from hardy geraniums and other perennials that are looking tatty. Water and feed to encourage a second flush of growth.

Stake top- heavy lilies and dahlias to protect them from strong wind or rain.

Lawns

In hot weather raise the blades on your mower so you leave the grass longer. It needs less water that way and you may find that you don't have to mow quite so frequently too. Towards the end of the month use a high phosphate fertiliser to benefit the roots of the grass to survive the rigours of the winter ahead.

Ponds

Thin oxygenating plants from ponds and rake out blanket weed and debris. Leave any material you remove at the side of the pond for a while to allow creatures to get back into the water.

Miscellaneous

Install water butts to collect rain water or use grey, recycled or stored rain water wherever possible.

Keep pots, tubs and hanging baskets looking great by watering daily and feeding every 10-14 days.

Thoroughly soak drought stressed plants and shrubs, especially newly planted ones.

Its an ideal time to apply nematodes as a biological control to manage vine weevils, while the soil is warm and before vine weevil grubs have grown large enough to cause serious damage- particularly in containers.

Hand weed and hoe off any weeds in the borders especially big plants before they seed. Keeping on top of them now will mean less effort to manage them later on.

Bulbs

Unbelievably it is time to start thinking about daffodils for next year! Ideally daffodils and narcissi should be planted by the end of October.

Its not too late to plant bulbs such as autumn crocus colchicums and nerine lilies for late summer/ autumn interest.

Gardening can be incredibly relaxing, improve mental health and is the perfect antidote for stress. Most importantly be sure you make time to sit back and relax in your beautiful garden!

Sally Watts is a Professional Garden Designer who has been featured in national magazines for her fabulous work on plots throughout the country. For more tips and inspiration go to her website: sallywattsgardendesign.co.uk