If last month was busy then this month should be even busier. May is usually the month when plants catch up from a slow, cold start and respond quickly to milder conditions. So, get sowing and planting. However, don't forget that late May frost can be the scourge of all gardeners.
May in the garden sees a burst of new colours from shrubs which have been predominantly yellows until now. The scene is really being set now for summer and the rest of the year. Take time out to actually study what is happening, and decide what you can do NOW to improve on the garden you have, and the garden that is to be over the next few months. There should be a wide range of flower and foliage colours starting now. If not, there is still time to obtain and plant a bit of 'variation'!
So, whilst you will probably be able to bask in a little sunshine now, it is also an important time to take stock of the garden to assess that which needs to be done.
Mow lawns once a week reducing the blades to 2cm. Apply selective weed killer and fertiliser or lawn sand if not done last month. Bare patches can also be over-seeded or turfed for the larger areas.
Spring Lawn care tips to get the best out of your turf for the months ahead.
Most lawns would have benefitted from top-dressing last month. If you didn't do it then, there is still time to top dress your lawn before the grass really takes over with rapid growth. Advantage of top dressing now is that the grass will soon cover the signs of the dressing, and will be ready for use as a picnic or alfresco area within a short time.
Support perennials with twiggy sticks or purpose-made plant supports. Clear spring bedding from borders and beds when flowers fade and add a general fertiliser to the soil. Allow bulb foliage to die back naturally; do not cut it down. This way you will ensure a bumper show next spring.
It is a good time to plant most perennials. You will be assured of flowers during the summer and container grown plants will not be too difficult to establish.
Once danger of frost has passed plant summer bedding. Don't be too eager to do this, as a cold snap - even with no frost - will set your young plats back so much that they may not recover properly. Many garden centres carry on selling bedding through into June, in order to capitalise on the plants which were planted too soon, and subsequently need to be replaced
Thin out hardy annuals sown last month.
Spray roses against aphids and fungal diseases. Prevention is better than cure. If you want roses like this, then start early. The first feed should already have been applied!
Insect pests and fungal diseases really look forward to this month, as they have tender young foliage to either feed on, or to as host to the fungal spores which will have overwintered.
There are several varieties of roses which are more prone to powdery mildew, and these include one of the best whites in 'Iceberg' and a stunning Red in 'Frensham'. Both invariably get spoiled.
Commence clipping hedges now that the first flush of growth has appeared. It may also be your last chance to treat your fences with a suitable preservative; but quickly before too much new plant growth hinders.
Plant out chrysanthemums and young dahlias when danger of frost has past. Protect emerging shoots from slugs and snails. -> -> -> ->
Watch for pests and control as necessary on fruit trees and bushes, Spray apple trees against apple scab especially in this wet spring.
Plant out shrubs that are tender when young. It is a good month for planting shrubs such as Clematis, Ceanothus and Eucalyptus.
Harvest rhubarb regularly through month of May and remove any flower spikes. Cover potatoes if frost threatens. Sow runner beans, French beans and broad beans in situ. Continue to sow other vegetables. and plant out early raised brassica plants- cabbage, broccoli and cauliflowers throughout May. Be vigilant for late frosts in this month.
In the cold greenhouse peppers tomatoes aubergines melons and cucumbers can be planted in May. Ventilate on sunny days and damp down the floor, shade if necessary. Keep an eye on the watering and be prepared to water more often as the temperatures increase throughout the month. Feed tomatoes once a week when fruits have set with a high potash fertiliser.
Many rhododendrons and azaleas are in flower this month remember to pick of dead flowers a/ to stop seed setting - which robs the plant of energy and b/ to allow new growth to develop into flowering shoots for next May. Pruning Rhododendrons