midsummer garden

Garden Jobs in July and August

Keep on top of the weeding

The dog days of summer, these are not the times we most enjoy being out in the garden. At least, I don’t enjoy working in the midday during conditions of high heat and humidity. This summer garden guide will help make quick work of the most important things to remember for this season.

I prefer working in the morning during midsummer or late in the day when the weather heats up and humidity reaches saturation points. Which is best, AM or PM? After the sun moves along its arc into the evening sunset it becomes a more comfortable time to work, but the mosquitoes in my garden make it less pleasant. Whereas, summer mornings are the best bet for a walk around the garden, removing weeds as necessary, harvesting some herbs, along with ripened tomatoes and peppers for the meals later that day.

Shrubs That Bring Summer Color

There are some shrubs that bloom this time of year, although not nearly the number that give color in the spring.

They aren’t as necessary, with all the full blossoming power of brightly colored annuals and perennials that are reaching a late season flush of flowering (especially native prairie plants).

Still, the middle ground of the landscape views are given interest with these shrubs:

Photo credit: cohdra

Buddleias are butterfly magnets, and for that reason alone, worthy of a place in the yard. Tuck them into a spot that receives plenty of sun and where their lovely visitors can be observed.

Hydrangeas are favorites, with their full heads of tiny, perfect infertile flowers. There are three main types of flower form for mid-summer beauty. One is the familiar “Mop-head” with the entire cluster of the flower head made up of the infertile sepals. The next type is the “Panicle” which is a cone-like formation of infertile flowers. The third is the delicate “Lace-cap” of a central cluster of fertile flowers surrounded by the lacey sepal fringe of the infertile flowers. These different forms make up the varieties of hydrangeas which come in colors ranging form pure white to sky-blue, with cool reds, warm pinks, and lavenders, in between. In some cases the bushes have a woody structure and autumn color, as well.

Pyracantha berries show color early on in the season, and their bright orange berries, in the case of the ‘Mohave’ selection match up quite well with the Butterfly weed, which is dancing with visiting insects in its cheerful orange array.

Caryopteris is a mid-size cloud of blue fluffy blooms with soft gray, aromatic foliage. It blooms dependably in my garden and likes sun with good drainage.

Be sure to read the articles on “Growing Your Own Food“, and growing vegetables.
  • Keep the vegetables harvested -tomatoes are coming into their own
  • Corn is at peak
  • As you harvest earlier crops you can plant others for late season harvests.
  • Parsley is growing like gangbusters right now, and should be trimmed for a nutritional addition to soups, salads, and as garnish.

At the height of summer you will be tapering off fertilization of those plants which go dormant, like roses, evergreens, etc, while continuing the feeding of food plants, flowering containers etc..

Preparation work like pinching back chrysanthemums and asters will stop, while removing extra leaf growth from tomatoes and dead heading annuals will continue.

It is time to keep on top of weeding and harvesting. Removing early cool season crops like the lettuces, sowing succession of beans, inspecting for destructive caterpillars and bugs, and cultivating around plants to keep soils loose and weeded.

Make an easy herbal wreath.

General Task How To

Tips For Annuals

For a complete garden calendar for seasonal tasks see the Month by Month Garden Calendar Index

By this time of year the annuals have been blooming heroically and getting a bit leggy or scraggly in the process. They may even be fulfilling their seed producing destiny. To ensure continued color and vigor, it is now time to trim them, even shear them back and temporarily losing a little flowering. The plants treated like this will reward the gardener with a renewed show, when they are now most needed. Carrying landscape color through the lulls in the perennial garden’s ebb and flow.

watering can Remember to water

With containers, it is most important to keep the plants watered; use fertilizer as recommended. Dead-head when necessary.

Flowers that bloom now:


Weed Control
Know your hoes, and reduce the amount of labor needed for important tasks such as weeding, hilling, even dust mulching. This is one tool that you will be using quite a bit during the hot months of midsummer.

What is “hilling up”? creating little hills of soil around the base of plants, useful for crops such as corn. What is dust mulching? A dry weather method for conserving moisture.

Quicklist: Tips

Flower Garden Tips
  • Flowers have been growing exuberantly- time to shear them back. Especially true for annuals, but perennials appreciate a haircut at this time, too.
  • Continue to deadhead spent blooms. along with the practice of shearing back, this helps give the plants some encouragement to keep blooming.
  • Pinching back asters or chrysanthemums? Not past the middle of July, if you wish to have full blooming this fall.
  • Prepare to save seeds. Gather from healthiest plants;
  • Time to look at plant catalogs -especially if you are interested in ordering bulbs. Place orders before the end of summer.


Journal Notes:


Gardening during the height of summer

If you have weeded well during other times of the year (especially in early summer), the job is not as onerous.

If not, and the place looks like a jungle, don’t worry, simply do what you can and utilize the good gardening weather of early fall to get everything back in order. Vacations, extreme weather, and many other interferences can cause the chore schedule to be off kilter.

Like all work, it requires a balance with times of relaxation and play. One very good reason to have a bench well situated in the garden.

Mowing and Weeding in August


Middle of summer begins the height of harvesting and canning seasons.

If you have grown anything in your food garden, or veggies in containers then you are entering harvest season in full swing. There are fruits, warm weather vegetables such as beans that need vigilance to garner the produce at its best.

Lettuce and radishes have likely bolted and should be removed, but get the ground ready for the fall crop.

Don’t be like me and let your cucumbers get away from you. One reason to grow them on a trellis is for easy pickings at this time of year. In previous years when I lost a few underneath the foliage. They grew to gigantic size!

Canning season starts during midsummer. Pickles and peaches! Be prepared with your jars and canning or freezing equipment.

Birds In The Garden

Birds enjoy birdbaths for drinking and bathing, especially during hot dry periods in midsummer. Give them fresh water and keep mosquito-free.


Little Pleasures

Dry some herbs; make wreaths from thyme and lavender. Marjoram and others also make pretty, fragrant wreaths that will stay useful all through the year.

Dried Flowers

There are several ways to dry flowers for crafts. One way is to hang small bunches upside down in a dry place. Victorians often used flower presses, which are easy to make, or pressed between waxed paper in a large book. For perfect blooms or difficult types of blossoms, silica gel works well.

Drying flowers

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It would be very appreciated. Annual flowers in my 2008 garden.