Aug. 18-24: In the garden, it's time to…

Hydrangea paniculata varieties bring in a lot of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

Clean out the tool shed.  Even better, clean out the basement tool area as well. (My basement is about 10 degrees cooler than outdoors, so I know where I want to spend my time.)  Pick a dry day, and spread out everything across the lawn. Make piles for things you use often, impulse buys you’ve never used, broken but well-loved items, things you bought to impress the neighbors, total trash. Invite the neighbors to retrieve the stuff you borrowed and never returned. Assess the situation, and consider installing shelves and racks. Then put the good stuff back, and repair or get rid of the rest. Schedule maintenance (physical, karmic, or both), and drop me a line: I can make sure those gently used castoffs find new homes in a community garden somewhere.

Aerate the lawn. We’ll talk about overseeding next week, but in the meantime, aerate first, and add some organic matter. Large lawns do best with some sort of mechanical aerator, but smaller spaces can be conquered using manual methods, like using a cultivator, which looks like a claw on a stick. Note: Poking holes is not enough and only compresses the soil in a different way. You need to create an opening big enough for air, water, and organic matter to get down to roots. Use tools — spike heels serve only to make you look silly.

Pollinate some tree hydrangeas.  If you have trouble flitting from fragrant bloom to fragrant bloom, though, don’t worry. I counted no less than 12 varieties of bees, wasps, and flies doing the job for you (and even a hummingbird, though the flowers were the wrong shape, and he seemed frustrated). So just outsource the job, and sit back and enjoy.

Sally McCabe is associate director of community education at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society ( and a co-owner of Cobblestone Krautery (