August Signals the End of Summer
by Don Janssen, Extension Educator
August signals the end of summer for many. Yard and garden activities focus on maintenance of many plants. In addition, August starts a very important time for lawn care projects.
August is a fairly quiet month for tree and shrub care. If you were planning on fertilizing, wait until October. Likewise, now is not a good time for pruning. Pruning and fertilizing in late summer may stimulate new growth that may not harden off properly for winter.
Continue routine maintenance on vegetables and annual flowers to keep plants productive for the balance of the season. Harvest vegetables on a regular basis to encourage plants to produce more. Promptly remove any overripe or rotten vegetables from gardens to avoid problems with picnic beetles. Remove spent blooms from annual flowers on a regular basis to keep new blooms coming. Water plants during dry spells, and possibly give them a little balanced fertilizer at the same time.
Early fall is an excellent time for seeding new lawns and putting in a variety of landscape plantings. Start preparing planting areas early in August. Large populations of weeds, especially perennial weeds, may be killed with the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup). This herbicide will kill off green plants it is sprayed onto without leaving a residue in the soil. Apply this material a good two weeks ahead of preparing the soil to give it time to work.
Seed lawns in the time period of late August into early September. It is important to have good soil to seed contact. Work the soil thoroughly prior to seeding, ideally having well-prepared soil to a depth of six inches. Add organic material, such as compost, rotted manure, or topsoil to improve clay soils. After seeding the new lawn, roll it to ensure good seed to soil contact. Consider a slit-seeder for overseeding established lawns.
Once a lawn area is seeded, maintaining adequate moisture is critical for success. Emerging grass seedlings die easily if they go under drought stress. Putting down a light mulch, such as straw, is helpful to maintain moisture.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County is your on-line yard and garden educational resource. The information on this Web site is valid for residents of southeastern Nebraska. It may or may not apply in your area. If you live outside southeastern Nebraska, visit your local Extension office