Gardening Tips for May

Tidy flower beds and remove collapsed plants and cut back anything that needs it. Clear remaining annuals and debris. Plant grasses to encourage birds in winter. Follow these gardening tips for May:

  • Prepare soil that is bare over winter by digging in plenty of compost, manure and organic material such as leaf mould and cover with a layer of mulch ready for spring planting.
  • Plant bare root trees, shrubs, hedges and roses. Soak the roots in a bucket of water for an hour before planting and protect against frost or wind if exposed.
  • Collect fallen leaves (see last month).
  • Once leaves have fallen on deciduous plants, it is easier to see their overall shape and pruning can be done accordingly. Leave tender plants and evergreens until spring to prune. Trim conifers to keep their shape being sure not to trim old wood.
  • Plant and transplant roses using plenty of compost and make the hole deep enough to cover the graft union.
  • Prune existing roses to about half their size and burn all the fallen leaves to help against fungal diseases.
  • Rake up any fallen leaves on the lawn and cut with the blades set on high when the grass is dry.
  • Service your lawnmower.
  • Plant bulbs according to the suppliers’ instructions in groups of 10-25 or more for the best effect. Water well throughout winter.
  • In areas of heavy frost, now is the time to get out the frost protection fleece and cover tender plants.
  • Raise containers off the ground to prevent them becoming waterlogged.
  • Brighten up your garden by planting winter bedding plants such as pansies, violas, petunias, primroses and cyclamen in your flower beds, containers and hanging baskets.
  • Divide perennials such as daylilies.
  • Cut back ornamental grasses and bamboos.
  • Do not cut back less hardy perennials such as fuchsias more than a third and add a layer of mulch around them to protect from severe cold.
  • Plant soft fruiting plants such as raspberries and gooseberries in well-prepared holes at the same depth as they are in the bag.
  • Prune established apple and pear trees to keep the centre open allowing for the air to circulate and the sunlight to penetrate into the middle of the tree.
  • Plant garlic, shallots, broad breans, and peas.
  • Protect brassicas if necessary and continue to harvest carrots, leeks, brussels sprouts (from the bottom upwards) and parsnips.

For more autumn gardening tips read our tips for April.

The Gardener