Late summer is when your garden is showing up signs of wear and becoming a little tattered at the edges, changing character of the once bright garden planted in spring. You will notice the leaves have matured to a dark green and is almost brittle. Your garden is now entering into the reproductory phase of producing seeds. Insects abound and the ground is drying up. All this calls for more than a bit of attention.
You will also find most of the plants have overgrown and lacking in colorful blooms and brown spots may have appeared in the lawn. You can stimulate new growth in the perennials by cutting them back in about half and many varieties will come out with another fresh flush of fall flowers. This will neaten up your garden’s appearance. While you are at it trim off any brown and dead foliage especially from spring bulbs.
Treat the brown spots in your lawn by raking in some good organic manure or compost, watering well during the day for a couple of weeks. Watering can be reduced once you see it greening again.
Look for signs of insect attack and try to identify the good from the bad. Especially look under the leaves for these harmful critters. Miniature cocoons of white fly may be attached. Removing these will stop an attack of white fly. Spray a recommended insecticide if the problem is intense. A good organic alternative can be prepared by soaking some pipe tobacco in a tea cup of water and boiling it to a concentrate. Mix about an ounce of this concentrate with pure soap flaked in a gallon of water and spray on the effected areas. Look for ants and rid them as these are the carriers of most bugs on their little feet especially the mealy bug.
Now is the time to apply a good dose of water soluble organic fertilizer after you have cut back your annuals and perennials to get them to bounce back into shape again and produce new blooms. Container plants such as geraniums, petunias, alyssum and other annuals will greatly benefit by this treatment and bloom right into fall.
A good watering will make your garden come alive, rejuvenating it for a further spell of bright blooms. A good idea is laying a length of soaker hose so water is where it is needed most – at the roots. Tired looking and stressed shallow rooted trees and young trees or those that have suffered root damage due to lawn weed killers or mechanical damage due to construction or other cause should be taken care of by applying a good mulch around the base of the trees and watering deeply once or twice weekly.
Pay attention to your vegetable garden and hoe down weeds before they have a chance of going to seed. They also take up soil nutrient and moisture needed by the late crops. Look for insect attack periodically on the undersides of leaves such as leaf hoppers, mealy bugs, aphids, spider mites, scales, and white flies. Remove any miniature white cocoons and ward off an attack of white fly.