May is one of the best times of the year to be in the garden. Containers, beds, borders, veg plots and lawns will be coming alive with new growth so there's lots to keep you busy while you're outside enjoying the fresh spring air; you'll then be able to reap the rewards while you're relaxing in your beautiful garden over the summer months.
The lawn should now be in its prime, and you’ll probably be mowing at least once a week to keep it looking it’s best. The soil is heating up nicely and the last threat of frosts should hopefully become a distant memory (keep an eye on that weather forecast, though!). You’ll need to start opening up the ventilation in the greenhouse during the day to avoid things getting too hot, and make sure the water butts are full because you’ll also have to start watering regularly during prolonged dry spells.
Your essential May checklist
- Prune spring-flowering shrubs like forsythia once they’ve finished flowering, to keep them neat and to encourage flowering for next year.
- Once the frosts are over, it’s time to plant out the dahlias and fill pots with colourful summer bedding.
- Keep an eye out for pests like aphids and watch out for scarlet lily beetles, which can decimate lily plants. Spray lilies with a lily beetle repellent to keep the pests at bay.
- Harden off indoor-grown young plants for a week or two before planting them out, popping them outside during the day and bringing them back in at night.
- Feed and water houseplants regularly, and transplant any pot-bound plants into larger containers.
- Continue the war on weeds, hoeing beds and using herbicides specially designed for paths and patios.
- Be water wise – water plants early in the morning or in the evening, and install a rainwater butt.
- Mow your lawn regularly and use edging shears to trim border edges.
- Check for nests before trimming hedges - remember that it’s illegal to disturb nesting birds.
Flowers and borders
- Wait until tulip, daffodil and bluebell foliage has died back before cutting. You can also lift and divide spring bulbs and replant them elsewhere for next season, and give your summer bulbs room to flourish.
- Water container plants regularly and feed fortnightly. Geraniums and other flowering plants will appreciate a high-potash feed once they start to bloom.
- If you’re passionate about your sweet peas then invest in some Pre-Planting Sweet Pea Fertiliser to give them a boost.
- Protect your plants with slug traps or go on a slug and snail hunt in the evenings.
In the veg garden
- Earth up your early potatoes to maximise the yield.
- Sow salad crops every couple of weeks to get a continuous supply going.
- Sow courgettes, runner beans and french beans in pots ready to plant out next month.
- Sow basil seeds in pots on a sunny windowsill, and coriander seeds outdoors.
- Towards the end of the month, start hardening off tomato plants ready for planting outdoors in June.