As August slowly slips away, now is the time to tackle a few late-summer gardening chores and prepare for the fall.
Here are eight things you can do in your yard this month:
1. Prune your blooming roses back about one-third of their height in late August to early September to encourage new blooms for October and November. Remove all the dead canes and diseased wood.
2. This is also a good time to spray roses for blackspot, powdery mildew and other fungal diseases. Use triforine, thiophanate methyl or copper oleate, and follow the directions carefully. Rake up and remove all fallen leaves to prevent further infection and dispose of them in the trash. Rinse your pruners in 10% bleach solution, then in water, before moving onto healthy shrubs to prevent spreading any disease. After pruning, use an all-purpose fertilizer or one designed specifically for roses to encourage new growth and to improve flowering for the fall bloom.
3. Ornamental bedding plants have either grown out of control or have just tuckered themselves out in the heat. Trim or stake tall plants and deadhead spent flowers on annuals and perennials to give them a boost.
4. Consider another application of fertilizer for your lawn of Bermuda, St. Augustine and Zoysia grass. No need to fertilize centipede grass.
5. Be on the lookout for chinch bugs, sod webworms and armyworms in your lawn. All three feed on grass stems and stolons. Look for brown patches in the lawn and signs of caterpillars or adult moths. If the problem has gotten out of control, consider insecticide applications of bifenthrin, carbaryl or permethrin. Follow the label instructions carefully.
6. If you notice perennial flowering plants such as day lilies, irises and ornamental grasses are beginning to decline or not make flowers, it is usually an indication of overcrowding. Dig up and divide them. The best time to do this task is early morning or late evening. When dividing plants, use a spade or shovel to carefully lift the clump of plants and avoid damaging the roots as much as possible. Place the clump on the ground then use a garden knife or spade to cut clumps into smaller pieces. Transplant smaller pieces to a container, a new spot in your yard or share them with others. Water transplants well, and keep an eye on them over the next few weeks to make sure they get adequate water as they establish new root systems. Dividing and replanting now allows plants to establish a good root system before going into dormancy during cooler winter months.
7. Perform maintenance in the summer vegetable garden. Remove spent summer tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and others that have tuckered out. If your spring-planted eggplant, pepper plants and okra still look good, let them grow. They often produce a fall crop.
8. Start planning your fall vegetable garden. Transplant fall tomato plants into your garden by the first week of September. Some suggested cultivars for fall production are Florida 91, Phoenix, Sun Leaper, Solar Set, Sunmaster and Talladega. Fall seeds of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, cucumber, kale, lettuces, lima beans, Swiss chard, Southern peas, shallots, squashes and turnips can be planted later this month.