May Garden Chores

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May Garden Chores

May garden chores are many as this is the month in zone 4, where planting begins. This list is used for my zone 4 gardens. Different zones will have different time frames. Check with your local extension office or a Master Gardener for the best dates for your location.

General to do

Review the gardening budget and record the items you have purchased.
Keep a garden journal record when flowers bloom; new plants in your collection-name, when planted, and where you bought it; and overcrowded plantings-also record fertilizers used on plants, amounts, and date. Record the name of insecticides/herbicides used, the amount, date, and effectiveness. Record the butterflies and birds you see in your garden.
Take photos of your garden as it blooms.
Prepare annual, perennial, and vegetable garden beds
Plant bare-rooted plants that have not started to green- as they arrive.

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May Weekly Chores

Water flower, lawn, and vegetable beds as needed
Weed flower and vegetable beds.


Feed sunflowers to birds

Perennials, annuals, and bulbs

Iris-check for borers and treat. Treat other iris problems.
Check garden beds for flowers that did not return
Columbines-remove infected leaves
Treat bugs in the perennial border as you observe them. Get help identifying them using this guide. Continue to the next slide show labeled garden pests.
Stake or pinch leggy annuals and perennials.
Stake any bulbs that will grow over 2 feet.


Check roses for insects and treat.
Dust roses for black spots.

Trees and shrubs

Watch elm tree for flogging, remove affected limbs
Check trees for fire blight and tent caterpillars-treat.


Treat weeds in your lawn. These articles identify the various weeds and how to treat them-

Weed Identification for Broadleaf Perennials
Annual Grassy Weeds
Winter Annual Lawn Weeds
Summer Annual Lawn Weeds

Early May Garden Chores

Trees and shrubs

Check trees for bores and treat
Feed evergreen bushes if indicated
Prune lilacs after blooming
Remove one-third of the older stems from suckering bushes such as forsythia and lilac. Cut to the ground.


Remove mulch and water strawberries (recover with mulch if freezing temps threaten)

Perennials, annuals, and bulbs

Move annuals to the cold frame two weeks before the final frost
Install stakes, peony cages, and trellises for your annuals and perennials before plants get tall.
Stop watering the crocus when the leaves turn yellow.
Divide summer and fall-blooming plants now if needed.
Plant pansies, alyssum, sweet peas, and cornflowers in perennial beds.
Deadhead tulip stalks when finished blooming, but don’t remove greenery.
Pot the following bulbs-elephant ears, crocosmia, Crinodonna lily, paintbrush, Peruvian daffodil, and oriental lilies.
Rest the following indoor bulbs-cyclamen, freesia, Ixia, Ranunculus, Sinningia, sparaxis, and allium.


Vegetables and herbs

Plant corn after apple blossoms fall or when the soil temperature reaches 55 degrees
Set out cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and pansies (harden off for two weeks if raised in the house) when the soil temperature reaches 45 degrees. It may require nighttime protection.

Perennials, annuals, and bulbs

Sprinkle around perennials with compost, and wait until the soil has warmed before applying mulch.
Plant lobelia, clarkia, blanket flower, calendula, gomphrena, cosmos, strawflowers, dianthus, stock, and candytuft seeds.
Pinch out the top of mums when each has six leaves. Keep mums and asters about 4 to 6 inches through June.
Pinch back plants that may grow too tall-garden phlox, obedient plant, etc.


Feed roses when new growth is 6 inches long

Trees and shrubs

Spray small trees that have mites
Check mugo pine trees for pine sawflies, treat.
Inspect mugo pine trees and other pines for pine needle scale, and treat.
Check all shrubs for oyster shell scale, and treat.
Watch for phomopsis blight in junipers.

Late May Garden Chores

Perennials, annuals, and bulbs

While blooming mark irises, you want to move later.
Sow or plant amaranthus, browillia, morning glory, marigold, aster, petunia, ageratum, fibrous begonias, and salvia after the last frost date
Plant glad corms every two weeks, six weeks after the last frost date.
Plant lily bulbs, dahlias, and cannas when the soil temps reach 60 degrees.
Mulch 3 to 6 inches around perennials after the rainy season has passed.
Thin the number of stems from plants known to get powdery mildew-garden phlox, bee balm, etc. Thinning will allow more airflow.
Shear low-growing flowers after they bloom-rock cress, candytuft, maiden pinks, moss phlox, etc. using a grass shear to about half their height.

Vegetables and herbs

Sow cucumber seeds when the soil temperature reaches 58 degrees and nighttime temperatures stay above freezing.
Plant eggplants, squash, melons, and tomato plants when soil temperature maintains 60 degrees and nighttime temperatures stay above freezing.

Trees, shrubs, and fruit

Apply tanglefoot to trees.
Prune runts and broken blackberry branches
Replenish wood chips under fruit trees.
Remove flowers from newly planted strawberries.
Treat for apple scab-do not use a product that contains insecticides as it will kill the bees and prevent pollination.
Feed rhubarb


Fertilize lawn if indicated. When you fertilize depends on several factors: your zones, grass type, and fertilizer. Contact your extension agent for their recommendations. Check out this article for fertilization tips.
Treat lawn for crabgrass when the soil temperatures are 60 degrees.

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