Keep Your Cool Here

There’s much to be achieved and enjoyed in the August backyard. Butterflies abound, while the magenta, burgundy and orange colors of late-summer bloomers foreshadow fall colors. Give your containers and summer edibles some love by maintaining them suitably watered and fed. Deadhead spent summer flowers for replicate blossoms — or let them set seed to provide food and habitat for wildlife during the forthcoming months. As you proceed, take stock of everything you see in the lawn, preparing for fall planting. Here’s what to do in U.S. gardens in August.

Locate your August backyard checklist:
California | Central Plains | Great Lakes | Mid-Atlantic | Northeast
Pacific Northwest | Rocky Mountains | Southeast | Southwest | Texas

Timothy Lee landscape layout

Northwest. “Maintain on deadheading roses, Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum), dahlias and other summer-flowering plants,” writes landscape designer Genevieve Schmidt. “By removing spent flowers, you promote the plant to continue placing new buds and place energy into flowers for the rest of the summer.”

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California. “Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, once an area of windswept sand dunes, is now a showcase of plants from all over the world,” writes garden editor Bill Marken. “Few are more eye catching than nodding pincushion, among many proteas out of South Africa. Proteas are notoriously difficult to develop, which explains why their high price as cut blooms. They are worth a try if you are able to provide what they need: perfectly drained soil and the perfect climate — coastal, not too hot”

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Noelle Johnson Landscape Consulting

Southwest. “Are your container crops looking tired? To look their best, plants will need to be fertilized when grown in containers,” writes Arizona horticulturalist Noelle Johnson. “Utilize a slow-release all-purpose fertilizer, that lasts around three months, or apply a liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks. You will be rewarded with larger plants and much more blooms.”

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Rocky Mountains. “The large heat of August isn’t the time to split or transfer crops, but it’s a excellent time for planning ahead to get a busy September and beyond,” states Colorado landscape designer Jocelyn Chilvers. “Look in your garden with a critical eye as you aim your work and shopping lists for your cooler days to come.”

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Land Design, Inc..

Texas. “Light, frequent waterings will simply encourage shallow roots, which won’t serve your crops well in times of warmth and dry weather. It’s preferable to water more deeply but less often, encouraging your plants’ roots to dig deep into the ground,” writes landscape designer Jenny Peterson.

“Avoid watering directly on the foliage of your plants, and water earlier in the morning or later in the day to avoid rapid evaporation,” she advises. “Better yet, install drip irrigation or soaker hoses to direct water nearer to the plants’ roots”

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Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

Central Plains. “That is prime butterfly season. You can deadhead flowers and hope to get a second, smaller flush, or leave them up for winter interest,” writes Nebraska garden consultant Benjamin Vogt. “Most birds will eat the seeds in fall, so you’ve got to decide if deadheading is worth the bet. Usually it’s best to leave up coneflowers and other mid- to later-summer bloomers, while early summer flowers may be a fantastic bet to reduce. Here a tiger swallowtail is enjoying with a pit stop”

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Barbara Pintozzi

Great Lakes. “August marks the transition from summer to autumnal blooms, starting with all the tall sedums, including Hylotelephium ‘Purple Emperor’,” writes Illinois garden trainer Barbara Pintozzi. “Growing it facing chartreuse foliage makes it a garden standout.”

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Paintbox Garden

Northeast. “Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium spp) is booming along roadsides and in meadows,” writes Vermont landscape consultant Charlotte Albers. “This native wildflower is widely flexible and grows well in poor soils, so it’s a fantastic choice for a rain garden or swale, or to put in an area where water pools when rains are heavy.”

“The species is somewhat intimidating — just too tall for most gardens, but there are shorter versions. That can be ‘Phantom’ (Dupatorium x ‘Phantom,’ zones 4 to 8), a dwarf that grows about 40 inches tall and brings honeybees and butterflies”

Get her Northeast August checklist | See more beauties of the meadow

Amy Renea

Mid-Atlantic. “While the temperatures are scorching now, cool weather will probably be within a few months, so today is your time to start seeding cool-season plants,” says garden writer Amy Renea. “I really like planting a second run of greens such as chard (pictured), spinach along with a variety of lettuces. Wait around to get a summer rainstorm and get out there and seed!”

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Gardening with Confidence®

Southeast. “Select and preorder your spring-blooming bulbs today while supplies are plentiful,” writes North Carolina backyard writer Helen Yoest. “Don’t put off today what will be gone tomorrow. The bulbs that are peculiar sell out. I can say this now because I’ve already put in my order. Try something fun like the species tulip Tulipa clusiana.”

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More: See more regional gardening guides

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