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Tips For Gardening in Late Summer (Plus a Garden Tour)

We’re going to do something a little different today. I’m going to give you some tips on spiffing things up around your gardens and when we’re done we’ll have a little garden tour.

Let’s be honest, towards the end of Summer things start looking a little rough and ragged in the gardens. Some plants have been enjoyed a little too much by bugs. Some are just done. And, others are tired of the hot weather. Can you relate?

Although our gardens aren’t at the peak of summer beauty, there’s still lots of color and pretty flowers. Come along for some Tips For Gardening in Late Summer and a relaxing virtual stroll through my gardens.

Here at Gingham Gardens, we have a lot of helpful posts about fall gardening, but we aren’t going to give tips here for the upcoming fall season. We are going to focus on and enjoy the last weeks of summer. For those of us who garden in northern climates, we need to embrace the late summer heat before the inevitable winter weather sets in.

This time of the year, in late summer, is a great time to get things done in the garden. Usually, by now, there are lots of vegetables to be harvested and flowers to cut for bouquets.

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Red geraniums and white petunias in a winter box in late summer.

Tips for Gardening in Late Summer – Let’s Tidy Up The Gardens

Grab a bucket (or a grocery bag), a pair of gardening shears and gloves. The links are to my favorites. Just take a quick pass through the perennial gardens and deadhead (cut back spent flowers and foliage) and clean up dead leaves. See those ugly daylily scapes, cut those all the way to the ground. Dried up hosta flowers, those too. If there are spent plants that are completely brown, go ahead and cut them down to a couple of inches. And, don’t be surprised if you see some new growth in the next few weeks from those plants.

Now, pull those weeds while you’re at it. This is an important time to make sure your garden doesn’t get overrun with weeds. If you don’t get a handle on perennial weeds now, they will come back next spring and will continue to haunt you all season. Just in case you need some more tips for How to Deal With Weeds In Your Gardens, many have found this post very helpful.

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Image of a garden with text overlay - Tips for Gardening in late summer

Do you have a flower border or containers of annuals that are looking sad? If your average first frost date is a couple of months away, go ahead and prune them back by 1/3 – 1/2. Then fertilize them and keep them watered well and you’ll get a fresh new wave of flower buds in a week or so. 

Have you had really dry weather this summer? We have and I’m really tired of lugging around hoses. It’s important though to make sure your gardens are getting plenty of water throughout the end of summer and into fall. For some excellent tips on watering your gardens, check out this post.

If you have a bunch of flower beds like me or a really big garden, just pick one flower bed or area a day. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can tidy things up. 

When you’re deadheading the flower gardens, it’s a good time to save seed pods from your favorite flowers. If you haven’t ever saved seeds, just do it. It’s such a fun and frugal way to get a head start on next spring’s gardens.

Colorful flowers in a late summer garden.

What to Do in the Vegetable Garden in Late Summer

Give the veggie beds some attention too. I just have 4 raised beds, so not much to tend to. I go through and do a quick weeding. To keep down weeds, I use dried, untreated grass clippings around the veggie plants. Now, cut all the yucky-looking leaves off the bottom of the tomato, cucumber and squash plants. There are too many green tomatoes, so I’m going to give them another dose of some organic fertilizer. If vegetable plants are taken care of, some will just keep producing right up until the first frost.Image of a Garden

After you harvest the last of your vegetables, its the perfect opportunity to do a second planting. Many fall vegetables can be planted and harvested before cold weather sets in. Did you know that cooler weather makes some vegetables sweeter?

Some cool-season crops that can be planted in mid to late August (and even early September) for an October harvest and all the way through late fall, depending on what gardening zone you are in. These include radishes, peas, leafy greens (like lettuce and spinach) broccoli and many others. Many of these crops can also take a light frost. Learn more about planting a fall garden.

Beautiful strawberry sundae panicle hydrangea in late summer.
Strawberry sundae hydrangea and profusion zinnias.

Late Summer is the Perfect Time To Plan Next Year’s Gardens

Take the time, at the end of the season, while everything is still fresh in your mind to do some Garden Planning for next season. Garden Planning – How to Plan Next Year’s Gardens is an excellent article that takes you through the steps of planning out your gardens for next year while the garden is at its peak. Now is the best time to plan next year’s garden. Take some time to check it out. There’s a printable guide available too that is super helpful.

Your best gardening tool is your Garden Journal and Planner! In case, you’ve never kept a Garden Journal, this article will tell you how and why to keep a Garden Journal. As an added bonus, all the forms, charts and lists to put together your own Garden Journal and Planner are available in our Gardening Resources Library.

Starting somewhere around the middle to late August, local garden centers will start reducing the price of their perennial plants. The end of the growing season is a great time to snag some deals on new plants. I have a little collection of perennial plants hanging out in a shady spot just waiting for cooler temperatures, so I can plant them.

Colorful late summer flower garden.

Late Summer Garden Tour

This sloped flower bed is a bit of a crazy mess, but every year it is getting better. I made some changes this spring and I’ve got some more to make this fall. My goal is to have consistent three-season color in this perennial bed with perennials in mass plantings. Want to know more about designing your own 3-season perennial garden, be sure to check out: Designing with Perennials for 3 Seasons of Bloom

This flower bed has come a long way over the years and I’m loving the progress so far. If you haven’t already seen the makeover of this garden, check it out when you’ve finished up here. Right now, it’s pretty much all about the coneflowers, black-eyed Susan, phlox, balloon flower, coreopsis and the last of the daylilies.

Image of a flower garden at Gingham Gardens

Here’s a cute little vignette with tall garden phlox and birdhouse stakes. Got to love the photo bombing lily.

Flower Garden - Tips for Gardening in Late Summer

In the same tiered flower bed are my favorite coneflowers – PowWow Wild Berry, along with Irish Wedding Daylilies and a few little Kobold Liatris that the bunnies didn’t eat.

Flower Gardens - Tips For Gardening in Late Summer

Next up, is  a sweet little garden area beside our deck. There’s Viking Magic daylily, False Sunflower and a pot of mandevilla. I like to add in a few annuals around the border to keep consistent color going throughout the summer. 

Image of a flower garden

This shade border garden that runs along our back fence has come a long way since last year. Here it is last summer.

Border Shade Garden - Tips for Gardening in August

Despite the fact that most of the shrubs were eaten to the ground by rabbits last winter, the plants are starting to fill in and this year it’s one of my best gardens.

I recently did an updated post on this Shade Border Garden and included some of my junk garden vignettes in it. This is one of my favorite posts and I think you’ll enjoy it! Here’s a different angle, but it’s easy to see the progress in just one year.

Below is a section of the made-over shade garden that I refer to as hosta hill. Every year I rearrange and add more plants. It’s filling in nicely for now. I have more plans in my head, so we’ll see what the future holds for hosta hill. 

Aren’t impatiens amazing! They are such an underrated annual flower. They require so little care and they let you know when they need a little drink. Plus, they do not require deadheading to offer up continuous blooms the entire season. Impatiens are a perfect annual flower for the shade.

Shade Garden With Field Stone Border - Tips for Gardening in Late Summer

I’ve shown this cute little tipped pot of impatiens before. Now look at it – a Pinterest project on steroids. Where’s the pot? These impatiens went wild. Ha ha, oh well, at least they are pretty. See what I mean about impatiens!

Impatiens - Tips on Gardening in August

Let’s not forget about the vegetable beds. Here’s one of my tomato plants – Super Sweet 100.

Tomatoes - Super Sweet 100s

Lots and lots of banana peppers. I give lots away and we like them chopped up in taco meat and other Mexican dishes. They are also wonderful in salsa. 

Banana Peppers - Tips for Gardening in August

More Late Blooming Flowers

I can’t get enough of tall garden phlox. It has such a subtle sweet smell. Pollinators love it too. The picture below includes Thai Pink Jade Phlox, Beautiful Edgings Daylily and Becky Shasta Daisies.

Image of a Flower Garden

Helenium is a perennial that makes my list of fall perennial flowers. It seems to be a little early this year and I’m hoping it holds out until the mums in front of it bloom.

Bright yellow helenium flowers in a late summer garden.

Late Summer Blooming Daylilies

Daylilies are amazing! There are early, mid, late and re-blooming varieties and I would like to add more late blooming varieties to my gardens. 

I just can’t stop until I show you more of my Daylilies. I have over 80 different varieties. South Seas is putting on a show this year. I recently saw a picture of South Seas Daylilies with Shasta Daisies and balloon flowers. The color combination is stunning and I’m going to replicate it in my gardens. 

South Seas Daylily - Tips for Gardening in Late Summer

Cedar Waxwing was a freebie in an order from Oakes Daylilies last year. It’s gorgeous!

Cedar Waxwing Daylily - Tips for Gardening in August

Another later blooming daylily is Cherry Cheeks. This one is a real stand-out in the garden.  

Image of Cherry Cheeks Daylily

I’ve shown Gaudy Gaudy off before, but she’s just so pretty and intense. Gaudy Gaudy Daylily is one of the last daylilies to bloom in my gardens, so when most of the others have pooped out, Gaudy Gaudy is still cranking out the blooms every day.

Gaudy Gaudy Daylily - Tips for Gardening in August

Dahlias Are Awesome Late Summer Flowers

It just wouldn’t be a Late Summer Garden Tour without sharing my lovely Dahlias with you. I don’t have a good, flat sunny area to grow dahlias, so I decided to grow them in containers this year.

These beauties are about 7 – 8 feet tall, and even though I put a tomato cage around them and staked them, the wind has damaged them a couple of times. They are doing fine now though and are setting lots more buds.

Here’s a shorter variety that doesn’t require staking. I started these early in my pop-up greenhouse.

This is the second summer for these dahlias. They overwintered beautifully and are a bit bigger this year. We’ll definitely try for a third year. 

If you don’t grow dahlias, just give them a try. You won’t be sorry. The tall varieties need staking and if you live in colder climates the tubers need to be lifted in the winter. Despite that they are gorgeous and worth their trouble. Learn how to overwinter dahlias and other tender perennials in this post.

Pink Garden Phlox with a Pink Dahlia

There are many varieties of alliums and many that bloom in late summer. They are adored by gardeners and bees alike. The variety in the photo below is millennium.

Bright purple millennium allium in a late summer garden.

Pollinators adore late summer blooming agastache (a/k/a anise hyssop). It’s not my favorite because it doesn’t bloom very long, but the bees love it after the bee balm has finished its bloom, so I keep it in my gardens for them.

Blue fortune agastache
Blue fortune agastache and sunking aralia.

More Tips for Gardening in Late Summer – Enjoy Your Gardens

Now that things are all tidied up, as a final tip, grab your camera or your phone, and take a stroll through your gardens and snap a bunch of pictures.  Once you stop and take a look, I think you’ll decide there’s still lots of beauty left in your late summer gardens. Post some pictures on the Gingham Gardens Facebook page, or send me some pictures of your gardens. I’d love to see them!

Be sure to pick a bouquet of flowers to bring indoors and enjoy some of those fresh veggies for supper tonight.

Thanks a bunch for stopping by Gingham Gardens today. I hope you enjoyed my garden tour today and are encouraged by my Tips for Gardening in Late Summer. Let’s enjoy the last of the summer months before fall weather sets in. How are your gardens growing? Are they tired? Leave a comment and let me know. I love hearing from my readers. Likewise, if you have a gardening question, I’d love to help you out.

Happy gardening,

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