Welcome to our August Gardener’s Checklist! This series features monthly suggestions for keeping your garden in tip top shape.

Average temperatures in southern California are at their highest in August making it a challenging month to keep gardens looking their best. Feel free to put those ambitious garden projects on hold until things cool down. Focus on watering needs, weeding, deadheading and fire safety.

Remembering these basics will be the difference between a flourishing garden and a forsaken one. Finally, don’t forget to enjoy the final days of summer with some of the season’s most important garden activities: reading a book, relaxing with family and friends, listening to music or napping in the shade.

  • Deep water trees and shrubs

Watering is your single biggest garden responsibility this month. Most trees and shrubs need watering deeply, thoroughly and infrequently. Deep watering forces roots to grow down into the cooler and more moist portion of the soil. As discussed last month, watering in the early morning hours ensures maximum absorption throughout the day and reduces the likelihood of fungal diseases. Vulnerable container plants may need a daily soaking during hot spells.

  • Remove nonproducing veggies

A common mistake in late summer is continuing to water vegetable plants that have produced little or no vegetables. By this month, most vegetables planted in spring should have already yielded a sizable crop. Remove those that are past their prime or have failed to produce and focus your attention and watering on healthy plants.

  • Reevaluate your landscaping

August is a good time to examine your landscaping and water usage. You can easily observe which trees and plants are doing well without much water and which are not. From there, you can plan to make changes to a more water-efficient landscape. Even with the recent El Nino, California is still in a state of drought for now.

  • Remove weeds early

Extra watering and hot weather make gardens especially prone to weeds this time of year. Weeds can rob your garden of water and nutrients while harboring insects and disease. Yank weeds up by the root to reduce competition for resources. Getting rid of weeds before they flower and go to seed will save you years of weeding in the long run.

  • Create a defensible space

Dry vegetation and Santa Ana winds are a bad combo. Take great care if you’re in a fire-prone area by removing all dead limbs and leaves from trees and shrubs, especially those near your home. Cut tall grasses and weeds down to stubble. Clean leaves from gutters and remove woody vegetation growing against structures. If you don’t have an evacuation plan, make one, and make sure all family members review it.

  • Add plants that love the heat

If you want to spruce up your flower garden, add splashes of summer color with plants that can take the heat. Your best planting bets this month include angelonia, bougainvillea, celosia, lantana, portaluca, tecoma, salvia and vinca.