Get inspired – Here are your gardening jobs for May.
Yes the warmer weather is finally on its way, and the garden is really livening up. Time to get these jobs done so you can sit back and enjoy the produce of your labour.
Gardening jobs for May – Cut back herbaceous perennials – The Chelsea Chop
When the growth of these perennials is getting rampant, now is a good time to cut back these herbaceous perennials. Such as phlox, sedums, catmint, Echinacea and heleniums. Usually done later in May (so called as its the time of the Chelsea flower show) these will help keep them under control, tidy and give you extended blooms in Summer. It can usually delay blooms for 4-6 weeks.
So how do you do it….
Well you have 2 options. Prune all of the plant, which will mean it is all delayed in its bloom or only prune ½ which will mean half with bloom in its natural season and the rest will bloom later giving you an extended flowering season.
Use sharp secateurs to make a sloping cut just above a leaf joint. Make sure your secateurs are clean its a good idea to sterilise them in a mixture of denatured alcohol and water so you don’t spread and potential diseases.
By chopping its stems back by a third or even up to a half of their length, you remove the weight that is holding them down and covering large areas of border, and encourage new growth that will give you an extended flowering period.
If you decide to only prune half, you can either do the left or right, front or back or prune every other stem. The position of the plant will help you decide which option is best.
Sowing and Growing in May
Nasturtium is great for your borders or in containers these can be sow straight outdoors. A great one for the children are Sunflowers which can be started now.
To attract wildlife sow poppy seeds, cornflowers and scabious directly into your garden they will attract bees and butterflies.
Now the risk of Frost has pasted you can direct sow ground cover annuals like phlox or candytuft for a beautiful display.
It is now the time to start sowing dwarf and climbing french beans. Runner beans can also be sown now directly outdoors when you feel the weather is warmer.
Sweetcorn can be started in deep pots. Young plants will then be ready to transplant into the garden in June. Salad leaves can also be sown now its best to sow in staggered batches to provide continuous pickings at harvest time.
Didn’t sow all your seeds? If you don’t have a storage box I have the perfect seed box for you. With 4 engraved compartments, including an extra one for oversized packets of seeds. Beautiful leather handles. An engraved lid which can be personalised and the options to have divider cards this is a really great product for gardeners. And perfect as a gift too. Starting from £65 you can purchase yours here.
You can also purchase my divider cards separately, use these to sort your seeds into date order. It is a great way to be on top of when to plant your seeds, and avoids missing your sowing window. You can purchase some here for only £7 of a set of 3 that fit perfectly into a Chester & Cooke seed box.
Gardening jobs for May – Saving water & water retention
As the cost of living is rising, every penny saved really does help. As summer is only round the corner and drier days are sure to be coming, the thought of watering our precious gardens can be really heart wrenching. Now is the time to be thinking of extra ways you can save water to use on your garden when it is dry.
- Get as many water butts as you can. – Visit your local recycling centre to see if they have any in their for sale area.
- Check out these rainwater collection systems for ideas and advice. https://www.ruralsprout.com/rainwater-collection/
- Use Domestic wastewater (known as ‘grey water’) in the garden. This may be from the kitchen, baths, basins and showers. If you have a way to get this stored for transport out of the house, this is a brilliant way to save water and water your plants. Household soaps and detergents are harmless to plants, but don’t use water containing bleaches or disinfectants as they will be harmful.
I always wash up into a bowl and then pour into a bucket or watering can by the back door ready for watering time in the evening.
It is also sensible to avoid using grey water on salads and other produce to be used without cooking.
Don’t store Grey water, use it the same day. If stored, harmful organisms may form in the water and could be harmful to humans, pets and plants. It will also start to smell quickly.
If plants are watered entirely with grey water during a very long dry spell, there is a danger that dissolved substances will build up in the soil, which can stop plants growing well. These will drain from the soil once there is a rain shower or if you alternate watering with stored rain water.
- Mulch your beds or use grass clippings around plants this will help to stop water evaporation from the soil and will stay moist longer. (try to avoid too much at the base of plants to avoid overheating.
- Get weeding – make sure your plants aren’t fighting for water with weeds.
- You could use capillary matts in the bottom of containers to help retain moisture in the soil. https://growfelt.com/capillary-matting/
- Use perlite or vermiculite mixture into your soil. ( especially in containers)
- Be creative – If you don’t have a roof to use, why not make one.
You could combine this into an undercover storage area. Which would be perfect to house your welly rack, Or you could add this to the inside of your shed door. Make sure you have a water butt connected to your shed roof.
Welly racks are available in 2 pairs up to 5 pairs with the option with or without a shelf and also can be personalised. Starting at £55 you can purchase your here.
Job 3 – What is Pinching out and why do it?
In most plants the top most bud the Apical bud, is the dominant bud and will suppress the other lower side buds (axillary buds) from growing. As this very top bud reaches for the sunlight it would grow into a long leggy plant with very few flowers.
Pinching out the shoot tips (apical buds) of plants will stimulate the side shoots to grow and produce bushier plants with far more buds and hence more flowers. It will keep the plant in a more compact shape too.
May is the time to pinch out bedding plants and young annuals, such as fuchsias and sweet peas to encourage bushier growth.
Gardening jobs for May – Trim Hawthorn hedges.
Depending on the type of hedges you have in your garden will dictate when you should trim and how often. Some only need it once a year while others need 2 or 3 times a year.
Remember between March and August is bird nesting season, so take care to check your hedges for any activity before you get out your hedge trimmer. If you have a bird nesting postpone the cut till they the young have hatched and flow the nest.
This is a great website to help you figure out when you should be trimming your hedges. Trimming at the wrong time of year can be detrimental as well as over trimming so care should be taken. Hedges are hard to replace if things go wrong so get it right 1st time, use the below website to help.
How to achieve Blooms all year round, complete your garden planner.
You can find your own FREE copy of my garden planner here. It is a great way to help achieve Blooms all year round.
How to use your Planner
Take a walk around the garden and make a note of anything in bloom, where you have foliage and where you have gaps. Making notes on your garden planner, taking photos or videos is also really useful.
Now it’s time to do some research on what plants will be suitable for May and for the areas that are in need of plants. Make an assessment of the areas that need plants at this time of year making notes of the soil and position, which will then help with your research
Obviously if you are planning for blooms this month, you won’t see the blooms till next year, So if you are using my planner try to plan ahead to establish what you can sow or plant earlier to enjoy later in the year. This time next year hopefully you would have worked out a plan and been planting throughout the year. You will then gradually create your garden to have some element of blooms all year round.
I find these websites really helpful because they help you understand what plants will be suitable where. The Anglia bulb company has a great system where you can select when you want the bulbs to flower, So this is great for planning ahead. Don’t forget to check the conditions and suitability of the plant for your garden.
Your final gardening job for May is to complete the part of the chart with the decision on what seeds to add to your shopping list and if the time is right, you can make your purchase and store them in your Seed Box ready.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about the gardening jobs for May & learning how to achieve blooms all year round. I hope you enjoy doing your jobs and look forward to seeing you in June for our jobs next month. You can purchase any of our Seed Boxes, divider cards and other gardening products in our shop here.
Thanks for reading.