August To-Do List: Fall Garden Head Start

Keep your garden growing through the heat of the summer and into fall with these essential tasks from HGTV editors and contributors.

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Protect Squash

Protect ripening fall pumpkins and winter squash. Slip a piece of terra-cotta beneath them to prevent rot on the bottom. Cover fruits with netting if hungry critters visit your garden frequently.—Julie Martens/Frostburg, Maryland

Gather Fruit

Gather fallen fruit from trees. This limits disease spread and keeps wasps to a minimum.—Julie Martens

Remove Self-Sowing Seedheads

Clip ripening seedheads from plants that tend to self-sow aggressively, like Joe-Pye weed, comfrey, lemon balm, cleome and money plant. Destroy—don’t compost—these seedheads.—Julie Martens

Start Drying Summer Blooms

Harvest herbs and flowers you want to dry for holiday gift-giving.—Julie Martens

Remove Spent Vegetables

Yank summer squash and bean plants that are finished for the season.—Julie Martens

Remove Infected Tomato Plants

Pull tomato plants that are done bearing and showing signs of late blight. Destroy—don’t compost—these plants.—Julie Martens

Sow Lettuce Seeds

Toss lettuce seed into protected nooks of the garden for a late fall crop.—Julie Martens

Compost Summer Veggies

Remove vegetable plants as they finish producing. Use them to start a new compost pile.—Debbie and Mark Wolfe/Atlanta, Georgia

Amend Garden Beds

Use compost made from spring and early summer waste to amend beds where plants were removed.—Debbie and Mark Wolfe

Sow Crops for Fall

Direct sow carrots, collards, beans, broccoli and green onions.—Debbie and Mark Wolfe

Transplant Tomato Plants in Sunken Pots

Transplant tomato plants, started in peat pots, to sunken pots so that the top of the root ball is just below the soil surface. Firm the soil around the roots and water well. —Debbie and Mark Wolfe

Start Preserving

We'll make pickles, cucumber kimchi and hot sauce.—Debbie and Mark Wolfe

Dry Herbs

Dry cuttings of basil, oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary and sweet bay.—Debbie and Mark Wolfe

Harvest Melons

Finally enjoy homegrown cantaloupe and watermelon!—Debbie and Mark Wolfe

Harvest Sweet Potatoes

We'll harvest and cure sweet potatoes.—Debbie and Mark Wolfe

Cane Berries

We'll cane the raspberries and blackberries.—Debbie and Mark Wolfe

Do Light Pruning

We'll lightly prune the blueberries and figs.—Debbie and Mark Wolfe

Design a Shed

We'll design our new garden shed and order the supplies to build it.—Debbie and Mark Wolfe

Store Iris

We'll dig up and pot up the iris bed for future relocation.—Debbie and Mark Wolfe

Repair the Rake

We'll put a new handle on the leaf rake.—Debbie and Mark Wolfe

Lawn Mower Maintenance

We'll sharpen the blade on the lawn mower.—Debbie and Mark Wolfe

Plant Mums

Plant fall-blooming annual mums for seasonal color.—Danny Flanders/Atlanta, Georgia 

More Flowers for Fall Color

Plant seeds of sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, cleome and marigolds for fall color.—Danny Flanders

Prune Hibiscus

Prune topical hibiscus for bringing indoors for the winter.—Danny Flanders

Fall Garden Planning

Analyze the garden for "bare spots" or areas in need of additions and look for good garden performers for fall planting.—Danny Flanders

Plant Fall Bulbs

Plant fall flowering bulbs like crocus and colchicum.—Danny Flanders

Prepare Fall Crops

As some of the prolific summer vegetables finish a spectacular run, it’s time to look to the fall vegetable garden. Broccoli, peas, kale and spinach are ready to plant.—Mick Telkamp/Raleigh, North Carolina

Ready Soil for Second Planting Season

After pulling plants that have finished producing for the summer, it’s time to yank weeds and turn the soil before planting fall crops.—Mick Telkamp

Compost Chicken Manure

Time to give the chicken coop a good cleaning. Manure composted now will be ready to apply to the garden in early spring.—Mick Telkamp

Start Planning

Now is the time to begin planning rebalancing my borders for next season.—Kim Visokey/Winnetka, Illinois

Keep Things Organized

I mark plants for division or donation by using alphabetized popsicle sticks. I create a key on a separate paper reminding me what the heck I had in mind.—Kim Visokey

Keep Deadheading

Continue deadheading for ongoing fall color.—Kim Visokey

Fill Empty Garden Slots

Fill in holes with colorful bargain-priced annuals!—Kim Visokey

Drown Japanese Beetles

Drown pesky Japanese beetles in a a cup of hot soapy water (although they might prefer sake). Remove damaged leaves so plants look fresh.—Kim Visokey

Show Your Garden Some Love

Most of all, don't turn your back on your garden. Now's when it needs you most. Ward off the dread that summer has come and gone...plan a garden party!—Kim Visokey

Flower Maintenance

Continue deadheading roses and other blooming shrubs, perennials and annuals to encourage rebloom. Also, cut off any spent blooms to stop perennials from setting more seeds.—Dee Nash/Gurthie, Oklahoma

Refresh Mulch

Replenish mulch wherever it has broken down. This helps plants retain water and keeps soil cool.—Dee Nash

Have Patience

Hold off on planting new perennials and annuals because it's still too hot outside.—Dee Nash

Fall Vegetable Plan

In mid-August, start lettuce, spinach and other leafy greens inside to set out when weather begins to cool in late September. Buy seeds of radishes, beets and other cool crops for your fall vegetable garden. These can be planted in September. Check local cooperative extension service bulletins for planting times.—Dee Nash

Watering System Check-In

Check irrigation system or soaker hoses for leaks. Fix any issues before cold temperatures arrive.—Dee Nash

Sow Cool-Weather Crops

I'll be sowing fall cold weather crops in the garden this month—cabbages, lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower, Swiss chard, kale, beets and radishes.—Melissa Caughey/Osterville, Massachusetts

Watch the Hives

I'll be watching the beehives closely ensuring that they are beginning to store up pollen and honey supplies for the upcoming winter.—Melissa Caughey

Gather Reading Materials

I'm going to be working on a gardening winter reading list that will help me prepare for cold days when I can't get out into the garden.—Melissa Caughey

Slug Control

Slug control will consist of small dishes of beer and salt placed strategically around the garden, such as under the hostas.—Melissa Caughey

Plan a Fall Foliage Trip

I will begin researching some fall leaf peeping day trips.—Melissa Caughey

Lawn Maintenance

I will also plan a weekend this fall to de-thatch and aerate the lawn. I will also reseed any bare spots left from summer's heat.—Melissa Caughey

Wait on Tomatoes

My tomatoes got a late start, but they're finally setting fruit! I'll buy a tomato cage, as the plant has just now begun to really gain some height. Fingers crossed it keeps producing well into fall.—Jessica Yonker/Atlanta, Georgia

Repot Shade Plants

The Georgia heat is doing a number on my new foamflower and hosta. I'll repot them and put them in a shadier spot on my porch until the weather settles down and find yet another new companion for my heuchera.—Jessica Yonker

Plant Lettuce and Herbs

After two years of growing basil unsuccessfully, I finally had luck this year with my spicy globe basil. Closer to the end of the month, I'll plant more herbs, and possibly lettuce, to start a miniature salad garden for the fall.—Jessica Yonker

Coneflower Clean-Up

When my coneflowers finish blooming, I’ll neaten them up by cutting off the brown leaves and dead flowers—but I always let some of the coneflower heads dry on the plants. Goldfinches love to feast on the seeds.—Lynn Coulter/Atlanta, Georgia

Prepare Tropical Hibiscus

I’ll cut back my hibiscus and move them onto the porch, so they can adjust to having less light. Before frost, I’ll move them indoors to the sunniest spot in my house.—Lynn Coulter

Plan Next Spring's Blooms

I’ll make up a list of spring bulbs I want to grow. I like to order some new daffodils every year—there are so many beautiful varieties to try.—Lynn Coulter

Collect Seeds

When the seeds ripen on my non-hybrid flowers and vegetables, I’ll save some for next year. And this year, I’m tying a string on my finger so I don’t forget to label them. It’s too easy to forget what’s what!—Lynn Coulter

Rose Care

I’ll apply more mulch to my roses, or I’ll completely replace it if they’ve had problems with black spot or other diseases this year.—Lynn Coulter

Plant Pansies

By October, I’ll plant pansies to replace my summer annuals.—Lynn Coulter

Overwinter Geraniums and Impatiens

Before the first frost, I’ll take my geraniums out of their pots, cut them back, and store them in paper bags in a dry, cool place until spring. I’ll also make cuttings of any impatiens I want to keep.—Lynn Coulter

Clean Tools

My secateurs and other tools have served me well this season. To show them my appreciation, I will give them a thorough cleaning and take them off the front porch where they have been living and find them a dry home where they will be protected from the elements.—Felicia Feaster/Atlanta, Georgia

Start Dreaming of Fall

Yes, it's only August, but it's not too early too start clipping and assembling my favorite fall and Halloween decorating ideas so I'll be ready when pumpkins and mums hit the store.—Felicia Feaster


Even though it is beginning to feel like summer is coming to an end, I won't forget to give my garden—and containers—long, nourishing drinks to keep plants and flowers looking their best.—Felicia Feaster

Collecting Fall Recipes

My apple tree is filling with fruit, so I am researching ways to use apples and pumpkins in comforting fall recipes.—Felicia Feaster

Herbal Remedy

I'm going to begin storing away my garden herbs for later, which means clever tricks like making pesto from my abundant basil to freeze for later use, freezing herbs in oil and using herbs in soaps among other ways to put a harvest to good use.—Felicia Feaster

Repot Houseplants

I'm going to start repotting my houseplants that have been living outside, moving them into bigger or better containers and getting them cleaned up and tidy for their short journey from porch to home.—Felicia Feaster

Order Allium Bulbs

I am anxious to try these whimsical beauties in my cottage garden where I think they will look great against my white picket fence. Just deliberating whether I should supersize it and order outrageous giant alliums for even more impact.—Felicia Feaster

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