What Should I Do in the Garden in May?

Table of Contents

Here’s a garden guide for what you can do and plant in the garden during May:

1. Add a Three-inch Layer of Mulch in May

Once the soil has warmed, apply mulch to flower gardens and around the base of trees. Keep mulch a few inches away from stems and trunks.

2. Harden Off Vegetable Seedlings Before Transplanting

Begin introducing warm-season vegetable transplants outside. Set your seedlings in filtered light for several hours a day, using a method called hardening before you plant them in the garden.

3. Start Harvesting Herbs in Spring

Begin harvesting new growth from herbs to make tasty dishes. Regular trimming encourages the plants to grow lush and full.

4. Prune Forsythia and Lilacs After They Flower

Prune spring-flowering shrubs, such as forsythia and lilac, once they finish blooming. Remove about half of the oldest stems to assure a strong flower show next spring.

5. Check the Condition of Your Outdoor Furniture

Set up patio, deck and garden furniture so you can check the need for additions or replacements. Plan how you want to decorate with hanging baskets and pots.

6. Set Up and Test Your Watering System

Double check hoses, sprayers and sprinklers are in working order and adequate for the areas you need to water. Hoses in multiple locations make it much easier to water.

7. Plant Your Vegetable Garden in May

Once nighttime temperatures are reliably warm, plant vegetables in the garden and watch them take off growing!

8. Water Newly Planted Trees and Shrubs in Spring

Trees and shrubs planted this spring or last fall need supplemental watering when rainfall is less than one inch per week. This helps their still developing roots support top growth.

9. Look for Empty Areas in Your Garden

Take note of bare spots in flower gardens that can be filled in with more plants (perennials, annuals or even accent shrubs).

10. Plant Your Favorite Flowers

Buy and plant your favorite summer flowers once nighttime temperatures are reliably warm. Simply cover the plants with a bed sheet overnight if frost does threaten.

11. Fix Your Lawn in Spring

This is the perfect time to assess the condition of your lawn. Reseed bare patches in lawns and water regularly until established. Use a bluegrass seed mix for sunnier lawns and fescue seed mix for shady ones.

12. Provide Support for Climbing and Tall Plants

Be sure any climbing plants in the garden have sturdy supports, such as an arbor or trellis. Place support stakes next to taller growing plants now, while access is easier.

Toads are a gardener’s best friend. They eat an array of insects and slugs that can damage your plants. Encourage toads in your landscape by providing them a place to shelter with our instructions for How to Build a Toad House.


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