You can continue to sow seeds of lettuce, carrots, beets and onions in August. (Getty Images)

You can continue to sow seeds of lettuce, carrots, beets and onions in August. (Getty Images)

Love it or leave it: The gardener’s to-do list for August

If you do this month’s chores, you’ll no longer be referred to as a “yardener,” or a casual gardener.

August can either be a month where the fruits of our labors and expressions of love come together into a glorious crescendo of all the wonderful colors of the rainbow — or it can be a time when we head out for vacations and ball games, and our yards become neglected barren patches of dried-out dirt, drought-stressed shrubs and parched lawns.

This is the time of year that separates the hard-core gardeners from the casual gardeners, or what we like to refer to in the trade as “yardeners.” It should be no surprise that my hidden agenda has always been to convert “yardeners” into gardeners, so to that end, here are some chores for August to make that happen…

Water and fertilize: No matter how awful your soil may be, if you can water consistently and feed on a regular basis, you can grow just about anything. If you fertilized in the spring, either organic or synthetic, chances are that it has all been used up and it’s time for another application. This is especially true for annuals and perennials — and definitely containers. A small application on shrubs and trees wouldn’t hurt either, but the only way you are going to keep those flowers going is to feed them at least weekly with a soluble feed like Miracle Gro or Sea Grow.

Mulch: It never hurts to spread a little compost around the garden to hold in moisture, keep down the weeds and add some microorganisms to the soil profile. About 1 inch is perfect.

Plant: By now you all should know my mantra on planting: You can do it year-round. Look around for blank spots and fill them with summer-blooming perennials — the garden centers have tons of them this time of year. Believe it or not, bulbs like tulips and daffodils will be in stock by the end of the month. Plant them now and have stunning, no fuss, blooming plants next spring.

Prune and divide: This is an excellent time to thin plants out and shape them, remove suckers and water spouts and generally fine-tune the garden. Cut back bloomed-out perennials (we call this “deadheading”) and they will often rebloom in the fall. You can also divide spring-blooming perennials, like daylilies, hostas and iris to name a few, and either replant them in the garden or share them with your neighbors. Don’t forget to add compost and fertilizer when you plant.

Bugs and Diseases: The truth is that most bugs are just a nuisance and not terminally detrimental to our plants. They also are a good food source for the birds, so go lightly on the pesticides and learn to live with a less than perfect plant. Mother Nature will love you for it. Diseases can be a bit more problematic, especially if we ever start getting some morning dew, so check with your local garden center if you have concerns.

Lawns: Normally, by mid-August the nights have cooled down into the 50s and it is perfect for germinating lawn seeds. With a La Nina predicted for this fall, it might continue to be dry and warm, so September might actually end up being a better bet.

Vegetables, herbs and fruits: Be sure to harvest on a regular basis and continue to feed them. Thin out the tomatoes so they don’t continue to set fruit that won’t have time to ripen. Transplants will start to show up again in the garden center later this month for the fall growing season but, in the mean time, you can continue to sow seeds of lettuce, carrots, beets and onions.

Follow these tips and you will become a gardener in no time at all. Stay safe and keep on gardening!

Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at

Make a wreathe

Sunnyside Nursery’s free gardening classes are online for now. A “Living Wreaths” class is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 14 via Zoom. With registration, you’ll receive a Zoom link to attend the online class. For more information or to sign up, visit

Talk to us

More in Life

Garden decorations. Old pots with flowers in the garden
Three ways to save those summer tropicals for next year

If you are attached to your plants or want to save a few bucks, you don’t have to throw out your containers.

The Gothard Sisters will perform at the Tim Noah Thumbnail Theater on Sept. 19 in Snohomish. From left, Greta, Solana and Willow Gothard. (Ruth Vanden Bos)
Edmonds’ Gothard Sisters return to stage with new original music

The trio’s songs include one inspired by an Old West legend. You can hear them Sept. 19 in Snohomish.

Quinn Fitzgerald
New hosts take the reins at Everett’s weekly comedy showcase

Adam Tiller and Quinn “Lil’ Q” Fitzgerald now host the Monday-night stand-up sessions at Tony V’s in Everett.

Frikart’s aster is loaded with lavender-blue flowers from midsummer to autumn. (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: Aster x frikartii ‘Mönch’ aka Frikart’s aster

This long-blooming aster is loaded with lavender-blue flowers from midsummer to autumn.

Nearly 20% of material thrown away is recyclable paper and cardboard. You can make a difference by putting these items in the recycling bin. (Waste Management)
Turn over new leaf: Take quiz to find out how to reduce waste

Waste Management shares some ideas to help you keep recycleables and foodstuffs out of the trash this fall.

This 1930 Palmer Cox Brownie Ten Pin Set with 12-inch-high paper and wood Brownies sold at Bertoia Auctions for $354. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
Brownies toys were based on children’s books circa 1879

The popular characters were featured as paper dolls, trade cards, rubber stamps, card games, puzzles and cloth dolls.

Wendy and Matt Poischbeg’s mid-century modern home will be featured on this year’s Historic Everett Home Tour. The virtual tour of four historic homes has been postponed. Check The Daily Herald for more information. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)
Home and garden events and resources around Snohomish County

Home and garden events and resources around Snohomish County

Andy Bronson / The Herald
The Tokyo Classic burger is the most popular menu item at Katsu Burger, because it’s the most like an American burger, business owner Hannah Ha says.
Now you can make Katsu Burger’s best-selling burger at home

Chef-owner Hannah Ha of the Lake Stevens store says the Tokyo Classic is the most popular menu item.

A tray of grilled delights; clockwise from top right, Cheeseburgers, Mustard-Lime Steak, Tandoori Chicken, and Grilled Asparagus With Olive Oil and Parmesan, on Wednesday, August 11, 2021. (Colter Peterson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)
Make it count: We have one last weekend of summertime grilling

There’s still time for you to grill asparagus, cheeseburgers, tandoori chicken and mustard lime steaks.

Most Read