May gardening is a joyous experience, as everything is surging with life and signs of summer abound. You can now do some sowing and planting out, depending upon the weather conditions, and you can complete some propagation in the form of softwood cuttings. The lawn will also require some attention as you start a regime to get it back into shape for summer.
May gardening jobs
You should already have most of your potatoes in the ground and it is now time for a bit of earthing up. If you have any left unplanted, it is time to get them in the ground. Weeds will need to be hoed out regularly if you want to prevent them taking hold.
Open the vents and doors of your greenhouse to allow the air to circulate and start hardening off your seedlings ready to plant out once the weather allows. Dahlias and canna lilies can go in the ground once any risk of frost has passed and you can sow winter bedding ready for a colourful display later in the year. Climbing plants will need regular training and tying in.
Give the lawn a first mow and treat it to some fertiliser, reseeding bare patches if necessary. You can now begin a fortnightly or weekly mowing schedule to keep your grass in good shape over the summer. The hedges could probably do with clipping, but look out for nesting birds first and try to avoid disturbing them.
Tender shrubs can be pruned after the danger of frost has passed and spring flowering shrubs should be pruned after flowering. You can still get away with pruning evergreens in May and should cut out any frost-damaged areas. Spring flowering bulbs will be fading by now and it is time to lift and divide clumps to avoid overcrowding. Hostas can be divided as they grow.
While you are going about your tasks, keep an eye out for lily beetle grubs and viburnum beetle and treat any accordingly.
May gardening and the weather
The sun may be out but there is still a danger of frost – and there was even snow at the end of April! This means tender plants will still need some protection. Summer bedding plants can go out in May but it is usually wise to wait until the end of the month, particularly if you live in a colder area.
Take some time while gardening in May to consider how you can collect rainwater and look at ways in which you can recycle any other water to use for irrigation.