Garden jobs to do in May
A brief list of tasks to take care of this month in your garden.
As herbaceous perennials start growing in place of early spring bulbs, we can start to think of the summer that is just around the corner. Once the risk of frosts has passed, we can begin planting out tender bedding plants, and dahlias and moving our succulents outside (I have lots!). The lawn is well and truly into its growing season, and as the weather warms up, it’ll require more regular mowing and care.
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Below I have detailed several things to do this month in your garden:
Do the “Chelsea chop”–
Towards the end of the month, trim herbaceous perennials by up to half to prevent them from becoming leggy and to encourage more flowers. Suitable for plants such as Echinacea purpurea, Phlox paniculata and Helenium spp.
Start staking plants –
Tie-in climbers and provide support for annuals such as sweet peas and morning glory. Build sturdy wigwams from hazel branches or buy structures from your garden centre. Put supports in place for top-heavy perennials such as Peonia spp. before they grow tall.
Remove faded tulip bulbs –
Deadheaded tulips can be lifted and stored for next year. Dig them up once the foliage has faded and replant in the autumn. Alternatively add them to your compost bin or garden bin and plant fresh ones for fantastic flowers next year.
Plant out tender summer bedding –
Towards the end of the month, once all risk of frost has passed, fill gaps in your borders with summer bedding plants. These showstoppers provide temporary, easy colour for stunning displays in containers, beds and hanging baskets.
Keep an eye on watering –
Water containers regularly. Water early in the morning, or in the early evening when the hot sun is not high in the sky (to prevent evaporation and leaf burn. Morning is best! Water borders and grass only in particularly dry weather. Increase watering houseplants and greenhouse plants as required. Use recycled rain or dishwater where possible.
Keep on top of weeds by hoeing bare soil and hand-weeding borders, regularly.
Ventilate greenhouses and conservatories –
Open vents and windows to provide airflow and to reduce temperatures on warm days. Close at night time when the temperatures drop.
Mow lawns –
Cut the grass every week. Leave some areas a bit longer to provide habitat for wildlife. Find out more about lawn care here.
Lift and divide spring bulbs–
Clumps of overcrowded bulbs such as daffodils can be split up and replanted for larger drifts of flowers next year.
Prune spring-flowering shrubs –
Shrubs such as Forsythia spp. and Skimmia ‘Bridal Wreath’ can be pruned now after they have flowered to keep them compact.
Plant out dahlias –
Only when the risk of all frost has passed, towards the end of the month, begin planting out tubers and pot-grown dahlias.
Check for pests and diseases –
Inspect greenhouse plants regularly for glasshouse pests, and keep a lookout for lily beetle on lilies and fritillaries. Watch out for aphids on new shoots on roses and other perennials and wipe them off as you find them. Avoid using chemicals.
Prick out seedlings –
Keep pricking out seedlings once they have grown their first set of “true leaves”. Harden-off seedlings in pots before planting out.
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