This is the time of year when your garden should really come to life. As with April, There are plenty of things to do in the garden in May for UK gardeners, including making sure you’ve got your weeds under control, checking for pests and making sure your garden is in great shape for summer.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important May garden tasks.
General Garden Maintenance
Summer is approaching fast and there are lots of people who want to spend as much time as possible outdoors, so the first of your jobs for the garden in May is to ensure wooden garden furniture is ready by applying a wood treatment.
From May onwards you’re probably going to have a lot more garden waste so make sure you have a big enough compost bin.
Before you start pruning your shrubs, take a walk around the garden and check for nesting birds.
Summer Beds & Other Flowers
One of the May garden tasks a lot of people look forward to is planning and planting out the summer beds.
Bedding plants offer an instant splash of vibrant colour that – weather dependent – can last all the way to October. You can either grow your summer plants from seed or buy them ready-grown in March or April, and they work equally well in beds, containers and hanging baskets.
There are dozens of different flowers to plant including busy lizzies, marigolds, geraniums, begonias, petunias and fuchsias and they’ll make for a bright garden.
Late May is generally the time to cut back your faded spring flowers to ground level, and if you planted forget-me-nots, one of the garden jobs for May is to remove them entirely. They set lots of seeds that will grow everywhere if they’re left unchecked.
In The Veg Garden
Believe it or not, you can now start sowing winter vegetables including cauliflower and broccoli and you can sow squash and sweetcorn in the greenhouse or indoors for planting in June.
Outdoors, you can sow runner beans, French beans, cabbage and your main crop carrots. Your first batches of lettuce, radishes and onions may be ready for harvest and one of the most common gardening jobs to do in May is to sow more every couple of weeks in order to have a steady supply over the summer months.
A general point about your veggie garden in May is that the more you plant, the more hoeing, weeding, watering and thinning needs to be done. As the weather is warmer, you need to water your plants almost every day, though of course there’s a balance between keeping them well hydrated and over-watering.
If you have your strawberries in runners, now’s the time to take them away so the fruit puts all its energy into getting plump and tasty.
You can put pheromone traps in your stone fruit trees to trap codling moths, and if you have young fruit trees, this is the time of very quick growth so they need regular watering.
To protect your soft fruit plants from birds, one of your May garden tasks is to put netting around them. You can also protect them with straw to control weed growth and keep the berries off the ground.
The warmth of May is paradise for pests. One of the important gardening jobs to do in the UK in May is to check your plants for aphids. On fruit plants like gooseberries, look out for sawfly larvae that can cause quick defoliation – sometimes referred to as skeletonisation of leaves – and remove slugs and snails. Other unwanted guests to look out for are lily beetles and vine weevil grubs.
Of all the things to do in the garden in May, looking after your lawn should be close to the top of your list. As the weather warms, the soil offers excellent grass-growing conditions, and you can add a nitrogen-rich fertiliser after mowing to encourage a thick, leafy growth.