May Easy-Gardening Tips
Make the most of the growth spurt as Summer is just around the corner!
While it is not unheard of to get frosts in May (as we have certainly seen this year), this is the month when the garden starts to feel fresh and truly alive again, with trees unfolding new leaves and blossom aplenty hanging heavy on cherry and apple. May is a time of anticipation and optimism when the possibilities for the garden are all to play for with just a little work and preparation for Summer.
Away with the weeds
A necessary job that will be occupying your gardening time in May will be tackling the weeds which are just as keen as plants to put on a growth spurt in the warmer weather. Some weeds will actually grow, seed and die all in one season and with these ‘annuals’ such as chickweed, groundsel and hairy bittercress, it is best to deal with them quickly using your trusty hoe, working shallowly across the soil so you don’t unearth any ungerminated seeds. With perennial weeds, including ground elder, it is best to try and fork them out, digging deep enough below the roots to ensure the whole weed is removed, before setting them to one side, ideally for the bonfire. Stubborn varieties can also be treated with a natural fertiliser such as the excellent acetic acid based formulation from the RHS or controlled with a membrane such as Weedtex laid between plants. And if you really want to take the pain of weeding away, why not let a mini tiller do the border preparation around your perennials, as well as coming in handy for the vegetable patch.
Let planting out bedding plants begin
Once your borders and beds are weed-free and looking their best, you can start to think about sowing out bedding plants and annuals. From Marigolds, Geraniums and Petunias to Lobelia, Zinnias and Fuschias, the choice is not only immense but what you pick can reflect your taste, planting scheme or the statement you are trying to make with your garden.
For borders or basket staples, we think you can’t go far wrong with frost-hardy Begonias which can be planted as upright or trailed over pots. Another popular favourite are long-flowering Impatiens or Bizzie Lizzies that rapidly cover borders and create a simple but joyful display of white red and purples.
For cottage gardeners, Sweet Peas (which have annual and perennial varieties), Cornflowers and Pinks (dianthus) are great choices while on-trend bedding plants include Calibrachoas which produce wide-petalled velvety blooms; our favourite are the Can-Can Deep Cherry variety that are just stunning. Another new show-stopper is the heat tolerant Osteospermum 3D Violet Ice that produces pom-pom double flowers in white and pale lilac that can be cut for a wonderful indoor display too.
We hope that our focus areas for this month have whetted your appetite for some rewarding sessions in the garden and you’ll approach the list of jobs below ‘as full of spirit as the month of May’ to quote the bard himself, William Shakespeare. Happy gardening!
MAY TOP 10 CHECKLIST
Get a head start on annual weeds with shallow hoeing leaving the roots exposed to die back in the sunshine
Fork or till your borders to rid them of troublesome perennial weeds in readiness for planting out annuals
Choose your bedding plants to personalise your summer colour scheme and begin planting out when the weather is frost free
Plant hanging baskets for summer and use slow-release fertiliser to add nutrients to the compost throughout the Summer. Consider leaving them in the greenhouse or an annexe until you can be certain of the night time temperatures
Feed hydrangeas in pots again using a bespoke fertiliser such as Vitax for best results
With forsythia and other Spring shrubs, prune to maintain their overall shape and limit spread
Feed tulips and daffodils with fish blood & bone or Tomorite to promote healthy flowering next year
Sand down or wash wooden garden furniture and treat ready for al fresco dining
Feed your lawn if you have not already done so using an environmentally friendly fertiliser such as Viano Lawn Boost
Aerate you lawn so it can absorb air, water and nutrients more easily, release surface compaction and stimulate new root growth. A fork or hand aerator can be used on smaller lawns pushing the tines firmly through the grass into the soil below and pulling out at the same angle. On particularly compacted areas, you can lever the fork up and down slightly to create more aeration. For larger areas, invest in an easy to use battery-powered aerator from a reliable brand such as Cobra which operates as a scarifier too, with an interchangeable drum to remove moss.