Gardening Tips for May

Wildlife

  • Keep birds water topped up especially if the weather is dry.
  • Keep birds feeders and drinkers clean especially in hot weather.

Trees, Shrubs and Flowers

  • Summer bedding can be planted when the danger of frost has passed.
  • Prune Clematis Montana straight after it has flowered.
  • Prune spring-flowering shrubs such as Ribes and Forsythia.
  • Prune Penstemons.
  • Plant out Begonias, Dahlias and other summer bulbs/corms if you have not already done so.
  • Plant out summer bedding when the danger of frost has passed, hardening off beforehand.
  • Tie in climbing and rambling roses.
  • Use controlled release fertiliser and water retaining gels in pots to save time on watering and feeding
  • Feed actively growing plants and crops to promote strong flowers and growth. Use either a general purpose fertiliser, seaweed containing products (which will help plants cope with stressful conditions like drought, cold or transplant shock more easily) or organic fertiliser.
  • Lift and divide overcrowded clumps of spring bulbs.
  • Put supports in place for perennials.
  • Plant summer hanging baskets.
  • Feed and water plants in containers.
  • Tie in Sweet Peas.
  • Spray roses with a product such as Roseclear or Multirose to help keep pests and diseases at bay.

Lawn

  • Apply a spring and summer lawn food to green up the grass or if you have not already done so use a lawn feed and weed or moss killer.
  • Mow lawns weekly and set the mower to the low summer setting.

Fruit and Vegetables

  • Tuck clean straw round the base of strawberry plants to keep fruit clean as it ripens.
  • Earth up potato stems and keep the soil moist.
  • Support leggy peas with netting.
  • Thin out direct sown carrots and then put fleece over them quickly to prevent carrot root fly attack.
  • Harden off outdoor tomatoes, courgettes and pumpkins for planting early next month
  • Continue with successional sowings of beetroot, carrots, turnips, swedes, salad leaves, lettuce, spring onions and radish.
  • Courgettes, marrows, pumpkins and squash can be started off in pots for planting out later. You don’t need many plants to produce a good crop of courgettes – two or three will suffice.
  • Plant out any earlier sowings of brassicas and put greenhouse crops like cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and aubergines into their final places.
  • Weed around onion and garlic to reduce competition for nutrients and water.
  • Harvest rhubarb.
  • Protect strawberries with straw.
  • Put netting around soft fruits to prevent bird damage.
  • Hang pheromone traps in apple and plum trees to prevent caterpillar damage.
  • Keep a look out for aphids and other pests and seek ways to control them.
  • Have some fleece handy to protect plants from late frosts.

General Maintenance

  • Keep on top of watering.
  • Keep on top of weeds to prevent them getting out of hand.
  • Keep bird baths and drinkers clean and topped up.
  • Open greenhouse vents.
  • Hang fly traps in greenhouses.
  • Top dress pots with compost.
  • Trim evergreen hedges (check for nesting birds first).
  • Remove excess weed from ponds.