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Proper rainfall is important on August gardening checklist

As I prepare this August checklist in mid-July, it appears that the daily rain events are beginning to subside. While natural rain is generally good for plants, too much rain can introduce some problems in your garden. It is important to monitor your plants for diseases and increased insect populations developing due to excess rain.

Here is your gardening checklist for August.

Woody plant care

Pruning is not recommended this month unless you have a shrub that has just finished blooming.

After the first week in August, it is time to stop fertilizing your roses.

Annual and perennial care

Annuals and perennials should be deadheaded to encourage better flowering.

Fertilize plants with a quarter-strength liquid balanced fertilizer twice a month.

August is a good time to divide daylilies toward the end of the month.

Mums and asters and other fall-flowering plants may be added to the garden to extend the flowering season.

Lawn care

Certain lawn grasses are recommended for use in northern Illinois. Using the proper type of grass will greatly enhance your chance of producing a successful lawn.

Kentucky bluegrass is one of the principal grass species used in our area. This grass spreads by rhizomes and is popular due to its quality appearance, hardiness and recovery ability.

Other grasses recommended for northern Illinois include rye grass to be used as a part of a lawn seed mixture and fescue grass for use in shady areas.

Wait until September to fertilize your lawn.

Fruit, vegetable and herb care

Pears are a good fruit to grow in Illinois. Be sure to select varieties that are hardy to zone 5. Two or more varieties will need to be planted for cross-pollination. Sickle and Moonglow are examples of two varieties that will cross-pollinate with each other. Fertilize pear trees with a very light application as too much fertilizer makes pear trees more vulnerable to the fire blight disease. Pears can be harvested when mature and will continue to ripen in storage.

Keep vegetable crops picked so that they continue to produce.

Edible vegetable crops should be monitored for disease and insect problems. The spraying of strong insecticides and fungicides is not recommended on food products.

In August, try to decide which herb plants you may want to bring inside for the winter. In September these plants can be dug and transplanted into pots.

August tip

Many of the annual and perennial vines are blooming later and more abundantly than usual this year due to the excess rains. Do they need to be pruned, and what is the right time to prune?

Vines that are grown for their attractive foliage can be lightly pruned at any time during the growing season.

Attention to time of bloom is an important consideration for flowering vines.

Spring blooming vines should be pruned after flowers fade. Be sure that all flowering has been completed before pruning.

For summer and fall blooming vines, you should wait and prune in late winter or early spring.

If your vines are showing abundant growth, very little fertilizer is needed.

• The Master Gardeners are available to answer questions from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday at the University of Illinois Extension DeKalb County office in the Farm Bureau Center for Agriculture, 1350 W. Prairie Drive, Sycamore. Call 815-758-8194 or email DeKalb_mg@extension.uiuc. edu. Walk-ins are welcome.

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