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August in the Northeast is all about harvesting and preserving the harvestfreezing, canning, pickling, etc. That doesn’t mean the rest of the garden to-do list can be ignored though, tempting as it may be. In the midst of cooking and picking, August gardening tasks await. Take some time away from the hot kitchen to tackle those Northeast gardening chores.

Northeast Gardening Chores in August

It may seem like it’s about time to slow down on the garden to-do list. After all, it’s been a long summer of babying fruits, veggies, lawns, and other plants but now is not the time to quit. For one thing, it’s still hot, and keeping up on watering is of primary importance.

If you haven’t been doing so all summer, set your mower to a higher length to allow the lawn to stay hydrated. It goes without saying that not only irrigation continues but keeping up on the weeding and deadheading will keep things looking nice. 

Fortunately, or unfortunately, these summer chores are not the only ones to tackle. There are still plenty of August gardening tasks yet to do.

Garden To-do List for August in the Northeast

To keep color going into the fall now is the time to buy and plant mums. August is also a good time to plant perennials, shrubs, and trees. Doing so now will allow the root systems to establish before it freezes.

Stop fertilizing. Late summer fertilizing encourages foliage growth which can then be open to damage caused by sudden freezes. The exception is the annual hanging baskets.

Dig the spuds out as soon as the tops die down. Prune the strawberry runners. Cut back bleeding hearts. August is the time to transplant or divide peonies and fertilize them. Plant autumn crocus.

As the gardening to-do list starts to get crossed off, begin to think about next year. Make notes while things are still blooming. Figure out which plants may need to be moved or divided. Also, order spring bulbs. If you’ve had your amaryllis outside, now is the time to bring them in.

Sow lettuce, greens, carrots, beets, and turnips for a second chance crop. Mulch around the root systems to retain water and keep them cool. Keep an eye out for pests and act immediately to eradicate them. Fill in bare spots in the lawn by sowing mixed grass seed.

Remember, Northeast gardening tasks will come to an end as winter rapidly approaches. Enjoy the time in the garden while you still can.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.