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August can be the hottest and driest month of the year. Even though it is hot, the days are now actually growing shorter, and your trees and shrubs will be giving one final push of rapid growth before they prepare for winter dormancy. Keep this in control by pruning as necessary, but try not to reduce trees or shrubs by more than 20% at this time. Over pruning will signal the plant to push out an excessive amount of tender new growth. This will stress it out at a time where it should be building reserves for the winter. Also, new growth will be susceptible to early frost if we get some. We will have time to hard prune during dormancy so just prune to shape and control leggy perennials and wayward branches. Keeping plants irrigated is a gardener's most important task this month. Vulnerable container plants may still need a daily soaking. Shallow-rooted trees like avocado and citrus need to be watered more frequently as well. Established shrubs, perennials, and shade trees will benefit from a slow, deep soak. In addition, mist plants with a hose occasionally to keep foliage clean and wash away pests like spider mites. Just make sure to do this in the early morning or early evening, and not in the heat of the day. August is the time to cut back spent hydrangeas, but not too hard; leave at least three buds per stem for next year's blooms. Vegetable gardeners can start germinating broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard, kale, mustard greens, and other Brassica seeds now. Just keep them protected from the summer heat, and well watered. Bonus Tip: Most trees benefit from structural pruning every 2-4 years. Quality tree trimming professionals get very bust in the fall. Now is a great time to get an estimate on trimming and get on their schedule for October, just after the summer growth slows and just before Santa Ana winds begin.