Richard's top tips for August

  • Week 1

    More geraniums. Take cuttings of bedding geraniums, fuchsias and marguerites. Use a gritty compost and they’ll root really quickly. By autumn, they’ll be stocky young plants ready for over-wintering indoors and flowering next summer.

    Lovely lilies. Cut off the seed heads as the flowers fade. For a dazzling display again next summer, feed them once a week with Flower Power until the stems die down naturally in the autumn.

    Pond watch. Keep the pond topped up if the water level drops during hot weather otherwise fish and plants may suffer. If blanket weed is a problem, remove as much as possible then treat with barley straw or Oase String Algae Control.

    Berry nice. Fancy some extra tasty strawberries next summer? Buy some young plants – Flamenco and Florence are especially good – from your garden centre. Pot them up now and you’ll get bumper crops from June onwards.


  • Week 2

    Better baskets. Trim back any vigorous plants in hanging baskets to give smaller plants space to grow. For maximum colour, don’t let the baskets dry out, feed with Flower Power and take off any finished flowers.

    Berry pretty. Trim back straggly shoots on pyracantha/firethorn. This will help tidy up the plant and show off the emerging berries even better.

    Mildew misery. To stop white powdery mildew from attacking plants like roses, sweet peas, michaelmas daisies and grapes, it’s important to keep them well watered. If the disease does appear, spray straight away with a fungicide like Bayer Fungus Fighter.

    Save seeds. As sweet peas get to the end of their flowering season, let a few pods develop. Pick the pods just as they ripen and start opening. Shake the seeds into paper bags and save them somewhere dry until sowing in October or next spring.

  • Week 3

    Grape Expectations. Keep grapes well watered to stop the fruit from splitting. Remove leaves around the grapes to help air reach them – this helps prevent them going mouldy.

    Mow go. Don’t cut the lawn too close in hot, dry weather. Adjust the blades to cut at a height of 1.5in. Don’t water it unless absolutely necessary.

    Veg out. For cheap, tasty and health packed home grown vegetables in late autumn, sow some seeds of spinach and leaf beet. Your plants will also produce rich pickings next spring.

    Winter herbs. Pot up small plants of thyme, sage and rosemary into 5in pots of John Innes compost. Pop them on the patio and keep them well watered. By autumn, they’ll be the perfect size for placing on the kitchen windowsill where you can harvest them all winter.



  • Week 4

    Free lilies. Some lilies, like Enchantment, produce mini-bulbs at the bottom of the stem and at the base of the leaves. Pick them off, plant 1in apart in a seed tray, cover with compost and keep outside where they’ll start growing into full size bulbs from next spring.

    Get fruity. Cut back any canes of summer raspberries that have finished fruiting so that the new canes can have more space to grow. Plant out or pot up new strawberry plants for next year’s crops. Pick off and bin any plums that are shrivelling and turning brown. This will help stop the disease spreading next year.

    Winter pansies. Keep the plants in the coolest part of the garden until early autumn. If they get too warm, the plants grow very straggly and will need to be cut back.

    Grass Act. Planning a new lawn? Prepare the ground now by killing off any perennial weeds. For best results, use a weedkiller like Roundup. It takes around three weeks before you see the results, then you can dig over the site and level it ready for turfing or sowing.