By the time August rolls around the garden can look a bit tired, especially in the ferocious heat we’ve had this summer. But all is not lost.

Watering…

Careful watering can help heat-weary plants to keep looking their best. Where suitable use ‘grey’ water from the household or water from tanks and water butts. Avoid using hosepipes, but if you need to, water deeply but less frequently to encourage the roots to go down into the soil, rather than staying near the surface. After a deep water it might also be worth considering mulching plants that like cool roots to retain moisture and protect them from the heat.

Ponds can lose water to evaporation at an amazing rate so make sure to top them up regularly, remove blanket weed and treat algae that may be taking over.

Keeping the borders looking fresh…

By now flower borders can look a bit tired so here’s a few tips to keep things looking bright and beautiful.

It’s a well-worn phrase but…keep dead-heading so that flowers keep coming until the first frosts.

Cut back faded perennials that have got to ‘leggy’, floppy or are wind-damaged. Often you’ll see that already, fresh new growth is forming at the base of the plant. Water well after pruning and if the weather is still hot mulch to retain moisture.

Prune summer flowering shrubs once the flowers brown and fade, to tidy up the shrub and also maintain a pleasing form – this includes plants like lavender which can easily become straggly and misshapen without a good, neat trim.

Prune climbing and rambling roses once they’ve flowered to stop them becoming thorny wild messes.

Keep the stakes high…

Use canes to stake top heavy plants like dahlias and lilies to keep them looking at their best.

The very best veggies…

Pinch out the tops of tomato plants and side shoots too keep the plants growing strongly. Tomato plants also like regular feed to encourage good fruiting.

Cut back herbs fairly hard so that they have another flush of growth before the autumn.

Pinch out the tops of runner bean plants to halt upward growth and promote side shoots. You can also do this with aubergines once they have 5 or 6 good fruits.

Carrots and beetroot sown in spring will be ready to harvest now.

Harvest tree fruits like apricots and plums now, as well as raspberries, blackcurrents and loganberries. Freeze any gluts of produce to use over the winter in jams or wines.

Harvest main crop potatoes now and store in a cool, dry, dark place. Also harvest shallots, onions and garlic once the leaves are brown and dry.

Harvest courgettes before they become giant marrows! It happens in the blink of an eye!

Clear weeds and brown or rotting foliage to reduce the risk of diseases and pests.

In the greenhouse…

Damp down the inside to reduce red spite mite infestation, and put up sticky traps to catch pests. Keep the greenhouse well watered and ventilated, especially on exceptionally hot days.

And finally…

Make a note of what you’ve enjoyed this summer and what you’d like to change or improve as this will help to remind you where you’d like to plant or move things to in the autumn and spring.