Here is a list of August garden tasks for the Texas Coastal Bend area from the Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardeners.
– Monitor your trees and plants carefully for signs of stress. Give them a deep drink of water when they droop or curl up.
– Monitor YOURSELF for signs of heat stress. It can happen before you know it. Dizziness, fatigue, nausea, cramps, and headache are signs of heat exhaustion. Get out of the heat immediately and drink some water. Do not delay.
– Restrict your outdoor work hours to early morning and in the evening to stay healthy and hydrated in hot weather.
– If you have Bermuda grass, it might have gone dormant by now. If it was healthy, prior to dormancy, and is kept free of foot and vehicle traffic, it should green back up when the weather cools.
– Check the water restrictions in your area. If you’re in stage 2, you can water with a sprinkler once a week. Drip irrigation or handheld hose-watering can be used further into the conservation stages than a sprinkler.
– Water your lawn no more than once a week. This is plenty to keep it alive and green.
– Use soaker hoses for watering vegetables and flower beds instead of a sprinkler. Soaker hoses use far less water and it goes directly to the plants. Run a soaker hose for about 3 hours for a good watering—overnight is too long.
– Use a timer for your watering, so you don’t let it go for too long.
– If you have a sprinkler system, the best way to use it is to set it to “manual” and turn it on only when needed. That way you can conserve water and protect plants from being over-watered.
– Water only in early morning, to give plants plenty of time to dry off before evening. This helps prevent fungal problems. Try to keep the water on the ground and not on leaves.
– Keep citrus, nut, and other fruiting trees well-watered with non-salty water every 2 weeks.
– Water established non-fruit trees once a month.
– Landscape plants and shrubs also need to be deeply watered every 2 weeks—more often if planted this year. And tropicals need it once a week for lush foliage and flowers.
– Trim back the annuals you planted in the spring, like impatiens and petunias to stimulate growth and more blooms.
– Stake landscape plants that have become large and are leaning from the extra weight.
– It’s okay to prune live oaks this month. The beetles that carry oak wilt fungus are not active in the heat of summer or the cold of winter. Summer is the second-best time to prune—January and February are the best. Paint all cuts with latex or pruning paint as soon as you make them. If you wait until you’ve finishing pruning, you will most likely miss some cuts.
– Prune vigorous-growth shrubs like eleagnus, privet, ligustrum, and photinia regularly to keep them under control.
– Prune rose bushes lightly to stimulate fall flowering. You can trim them back by one-third. Then fertilize them and water it in. You’ll have more blooms in September and October.
– Pull up your spent annuals and vegetables. If you don’t, they will attract pests and diseases to your garden.
– Start a new compost pile with your pulled-up plants, as long as they are not weeds or diseased plants.
– Check pulled-up plants for root galls or knots before you discard them. This can be an indicator of root-knot nematodes (a microscopic roundworm). Don’t put them in your compost pile—dispose of them in the garbage.
– If you have nematodes, you can solarize the garden or plant elbon rye to reduce their numbers.
– Check plants frequently for sucking insects, such as spider mites, mealy bugs, and aphids. Treat them with horticultural oil, insecticidal soap, or with ladybugs. If you bring in ladybugs, don’t use insecticide.
– Also check for scale—waxy blobs on leaves and stems that contain sucking insects. Treat with light horticultural oil.
– Plan your fall garden, but wait until September to put in most bedding plants and shrubs. Consider low-water native plants like cenizo (purple sage), esperanza, fiddlewood, Mexican buckeye, agarito, American beautyberry, coralbean, Barbados cherry, yaupon holly, fern acacia, crucita (fragrant mistflower), heartleaf hibiscus, softleaf yucca, Texas lantana, thorn-crested agave, Turk’s cap, wooly butterfly-bush, snapdragon vine, and Texas sabal palm. NOTE: A/SP Master Gardeners will have a pop-up sale on August 18 at 1pm.
– Get your soil tested, so you know what might be lacking or what might be present in abundance, like salt. Call the extension for details. 361-790-0103
– August is a good time to plant palms, since they need warm weather to get established.
– Plant bluebonnets and other spring-blooming wildflowers. Be sure the seeds come into contact with the soil so they can germinate. Details here: https://www.wildflower.org/learn/how-to/grow-bluebonnets NOTE: article is for central texas. Our planting time is August.
– Plant zinnias and sunflowers from seed this month.
– Plan your fall vegetable garden now. Get your seeds for cool season crops, as long as they are types that will fruit within 45-60 days like zucchini, cucumbers, and beans.
– Start your veggie plants from seed in pots around August 15. They’ll be transplanted into the ground September 15, and more in October. Zucchini and cucumbers only need a couple of weeks in the pot before going into the ground. See: https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/…/fall-vegetable-garden…/ we are in zone IV.
– Eggplants are ready to pick when they are shiny and fully colored. Seeds should be firm but not dark and hard. If the skin has become dull, it’s probably not good to eat anymore.
Thanks to Master Gardeners Heather Bywater, Todd Cutting, Richard Snyder, Ann Smith and Amanda Steves for contributing to this list.