Gardening guru Marianne Alexander covers all the must-do gardening chores for August

For the plant enthusiast

  • Mulch hydrangeas. To intensify the colour of the blue flowers, water in 2T aluminium sulphate around the roots each month.
  • Secure newly planted trees and standards before the late winter winds arrive.
  • Continue removing faded flowers from bulbs like daffodils and keep feeding them with 3:1:5 fertiliser till the leaves turn yellow.
  • Tidy up or cut back ornamental grasses towards the end of August. Trim soft-wooded plants like salvias and fuchsias, remove any old twiggy growth and cut back by about two thirds; add compost, mulch well and feed.
  • Plant seeds of summer annuals like marigolds, cosmos, cleome, lavatera, viscaria, candytuft and hollyhocks, scabious and sunflowers; these can be sown in situ once the weather warms up. Ageratum, phlox, Chrysanthemum paludosum, salvias, nicotianas, alyssum, gaillardia and vinca are best sown in seed trays.
  • Take cuttings of daisy bushes, lavender, heliotrope and pentas.

For the kitchen gardener

  • Sow seeds of warm season salad vegetables like tomatoes, baby corn, green and red peppers, aubergines and cucumbers in seed trays; keep them in a warm place. Sow carrots, radish and zucchini seeds in situ.
  • Grow fast-maturing annual herbs like rocket, caraway, dill and fennel and others like borage, chervil, coriander and basil. Plant several clumps of chives so each one has a chance to regrow after you harvest the leaves.
  • Feed and mulch around strawberries, granadillas, loganberries, raspberries, boysenberries and grapevines.

For the time-pressed gardener

  • Become more water wise, so you’ll spend less time watering. Reduce the grassed areas in your garden and plant drought-tolerant plants.
  • Combine some of the beds in your garden; this will mean fewer edges to care for and will result in a freer more relaxed look.
  • Catch weeds early so they don’t become problematic. In frost areas it’s easy to spot and remove broad-leaved weeds in dry lawns. In winter rainfall areas, mow winter grass before it sets seed.