Your August checklist
What to do this month for a more beautiful garden all year
Get rid of suckers. Many trees and shrubs, especially grafted ones like roses and some fruit trees, send up weak shoots from the base of the trunk or roots. Remove them off before they begin to compete with or even overtake the plant. Using sharp pruning shears, cut them off as close as possible to the trunk or root.
Prune hedges. Shrubs grows faster at the top. To counteract top-heavy growth, clip a hedge slightly wider at the base, slanting it in at the top. Use electric or hand-operated hedge shears for fine- to medium-leafed shrubs. Use pruning shears on large-leafed shrubs, cutting off growth branch by branch. Trim at least three times a year, when new growth is about 6 inches long.
Protect saplings. Nothing knocks down weeds around saplings as well as a string trimmer, but nothing is more likely to girdle the tree and eventually kill it. To protect the trunk of a young tree, cut a short length of flexible black plastic pipe (wide enough to fit around the tree), and split one side. Open up the pipe, then slip it around the trunk. As the trunk expands, so will the sleeve. With time, the tree will fill out and start casting enough shade to reduce the weeds around it. Then you can remove the sleeve.