May is one of the most exciting months in the garden. Seeds and plants sowed in early spring are flourishing due to the combination of sunny days and April showers, resulting in an abundance of greenery and new life. Here are our hints on how to keep your garden in tip-top shape, ready for you to enjoy in the summer months!
Ideally, bedding plants should be planted in May. But be aware that cold nights that could still occur can damage them, so you may need use horticultural fleece or move the container to a sheltered spot in cold weather.
Make sure you water your bedding plants well, especially if kept in a container and keep them fed with a slow-release fertiliser so they flower all summer.
If soil conditions are not too wet, dahlia tubers and gladioli can be planted direct into the garden soil from early May onwards for late summer flowering.
Time to tie in climbers like roses, clematis and vines so they are trained to your arbours and trellises as they continue to flourish and bloom. Check for powdery mildew and black spot symptoms and treat infected plants with a fungicide.
May is also the time to plant your herbaceous perennials such as foxgloves, lupins, phlox, penstemon and rudbeckia which will bring pollinating insects buzzing to your garden. Sow hardy annuals outdoors this month where you want them to grow like nasturtium, aquilegia, coreopsis and chrysanthemums for an injection of colour.
Prune spring flowering shrubs and perennials like forsythia, chaenomeles, pyracantha, lavender and winter-flowering heathers to stop them getting leggy.
Grow your own
As the weather turns warmer, you can sow seed outdoors for beetroot, carrots, chard, cauliflower, lettuce, leeks, radish, turnips, peas and spinach in your vegetable garden or containers. You can also take your small tomato plants from inside and start to plant them out.
Beans can be sown from mid-May onwards and now is the month to put up the support like tee-pees made from bamboo canes, or a bean net strung between poles.
Continue to protect potatoes from any late frosts, and cover any developing tubers from sunlight – earthing them up with soil in containers as the potato plants grow. Once the shoots are about 20cm tall, mound up soil around them, covering the lower part of the stems.
Put straw around your strawberry plants if in the ground to deter slugs. If you have a herb garden, take cuttings of sage, thyme and rosemary. Not only are these herbs ready to enhance your dishes, but taking cuttings will also encourage new growth, prolonging the season.
May is a great time to prepare your lawn for the summer months ahead so you can enjoy it to the full.
As the weather starts to warm up during the spring months, you’ll notice that the grass will start to grow faster so mowing can commence as long as the lawn is not too wet or frozen. At this time of year, you'll probably only need to cut your lawn about once a week.
It’s important to aerate compacted areas of your lawn and this can be done easily with a garden fork. If you have any bare patches following the removal of weeds and moss, you can overseed your lawn now to prepare for the high usage during the summer months. Simply apply your lawn seed onto the area then rake the seed into the surface.