Eco Garden - August
August is usually one of the hottest months of the year, so watering is essential to keep the garden at its best.
Try to use recycled water wherever possible, especially as water butts may be running low by this stage of the summer. Recent downpours may have topped them up, however, and collecting your own rain-water or recycling water – left after a bath for instance or in the washing up bowl – makes environmental and financial sense, particularly if you are being metered. Combine this with a capillary watering system, which supplies water from a reservoir automatically, without the need for pumping and your watering becomes about as eco-friendly as you can get.
August is traditionally holiday time, so you might need to enlist the help of neighbours, friends, and family to look after the garden while you are away if you don’t want to return to withered plants and a brown lawn. Even occasional watering will help.
Things to do…
Flowers - Deadhead your plants regularly to encourage more flower buds to form and open, not forgetting your tubs and hanging baskets. Deadheading, watering, and feeding will help them last through until autumn.
I would suggest you prune climbing and rambling roses that do not repeat flower or produce attractive hips, once the flowers have finished this saves an extra job later in the year.
Keep in the eco spirit by collecting and storing seeds from hardy annuals and perennials for sowing later in the autumn. Good plants to try include Calendula, Nigella, Cerinthe, Papaver, Aquilegia and hardy Geranium.
Trees and shrubs - Give hedges a final trim now. They will only grow a little before cold weather stops growth.
Greenhouse - Perhaps one of the most direct ways to reduce your own carbon footprint is to invest in a greenhouse. Producing even a small amount of your own food under glass allows you to reduce the food miles of much of the exotic or out-of-season produce otherwise only available in supermarkets. Flying fruit and vegetables into the country from different parts of the world causes carbon emissions and then transporting them along the road network simply makes the problem worse.
A greenhouse is a great addition for any enthusiastic gardener. They not only allow us to grow a wider variety of our own produce but give tender plants a much better start. Propagating your own in the greenhouse, from seeds or cuttings, not only gets around the environmental problem of fossil fuel use but could also save you a small fortune.
As successive droughts and hosepipe bans have shown, despite Britain’s decidedly wet climate, there are times when, for one reason or another, there simply is not enough water to go around. A lot of the water used in the greenhouse can be successfully recycled. It is possible to reduce the demand for treated mains water by the simple expedient of the humble rain-butt. A little guttering can soon be set up to collect the rain falling on the greenhouse roof and if the butt is positioned high enough, it should be possible to let gravity move the water to where it is needed.
Birds and Wildlife - Keep feeding the BIRDS! They need your food and water. Make sure that the birdbath is always full of clean water.
Lawns - Raise the blades on the mower before cutting fine lawns. This will help reduce drought stress.
Browning of the lawn is very common at this time of year. Don’t water the grass unless absolutely necessary. It will green up when the autumn rains arrive.
Encourage a weed-free garden by applying mulch, e.g lawn clippings. Do this especially if you don’t want to pay for the council to collect your green waste bin!
Ponds - Top up water where necessary in ponds and water features. Aerate the water in hot sticky weather by leaving fountains on overnight.
Structures - Take advantage of the dry weather by painting fences, sheds and other wooden features with a preservative.