July is over and now we’re on to August gardening here in the Los Angeles area. Since the weather is so unpredictable, it’s safest for us gardeners to prepare for heat and dry. A rain shower will make the plants rejoice and cooler weather will give us more time outdoors. But making provisions for the usual hot August will keep your landscape in good condition whatever Mother Nature sends our way.
- Keep a close watch on edibles. It’s important to snap off fruits and vegetables before they grow too big and drain the plant of energy or become over-ripe.
- Hot summer weather is perfect for enjoying any and all of your water features. Take a dip in the pool, run the fountains and hang out at your pond to let nature soothe your spirit and cool your consciousness.
- If you haven’t changed over, you might want to replace traditional irrigation nozzles with low volume sprinkler heads for getting the most you can from your irrigation system. Water costs are continuing to rise all over Los Angeles County and they're not likely to go down any time soon.
- New plantings are best done in the autumn – especially in the hotter inland areas --- but if you can water regularly and give the new arrivals some extra shade, you can still do some planting in August. California natives are in dormancy at this time of year so they would appreciate going in the ground after the end of September. Succulents and cactus plants are easily transplanted in the heat and dry so this is a fine time to put them in the ground.
- Compost piles should be ‘cooking’ nicely in our toasty Southern California summertime. Just remember to keep them moist or breakdown will slow or even stop.
- Check pond fish for any signs of infection and don’t overfeed. Clear water features of string algae before it clogs pumps, filters or pipes.
- Outside Los Angeles city areas, keep brush cleared, wood piles moved away from the house and gutters clean just in case a wildfire should spark up near your home.
- Watch carefully for insect infestations – especially on fruits and vegetables. Hose any invasions away with a blast of water or try a direct spray of insecticidal soap.
- You can deadhead and prune back sleeping native plants in August. Keep fading flowers clipped off of annuals to extend the flowering season. And enjoy cool mornings to cruise the garden collecting seed from your favorite plants to use next year.
Enjoy our lovely cool Los Angeles summer evenings outdoors by sharing your garden with friends and family. We have relatively few insects to taunt us after dark, so the evening garden is a wonderful place to spend the later hours of the day. Sharing all you garden successes is a fun way to pat yourself on the back for all the work you've put into your landscape.