May 2016
Lawn and Garden Checklist

May Lawn and Garden Checklist


If you haven’t already, plant warm-season Bonnie vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and squash.

Tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant are members of the nightshade family. They like similar growing conditions, but should not be planted adjacent to or in succession from year to year because they all are susceptible to the same diseases.

Plant sweet potato slips.

Sowing new lawns or over-seeding dead patches can still be carried out in May while the ground is moist.

Plant container-grown trees and shrubs. Stop planting bare-root trees and shrubs.

For best results, transplant perennials before they are 6 inches tall, and don’t disturb spring-bloomers until fall.

Gourds can be planted.

Plant a few gladioli corms every week from now until early July for continual summer cuttings.

Divide and plant waterlilies if not done last month.



Apply a high-nitrogen, summer lawn fertilizer to encourage a healthy-looking lawn.

To encourage flowering, a fertilizer low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus is best. The fertilizer’s three main ingredients are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). 10-10-10 means there is an equal proportion of each N-P-K.

Work lime in the soil around your hydrangeas to produce pink flowers or aluminum sulphate for blue blooms.

Fertilize azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias after they bloom with a fertilizer made for acid-loving plants.

Weed and fertilize pachysandra, ivy and vinca minor; once weed-choked, groundcovers are difficult to get right again. Also, thin out or take cuttings now to extend coverage elsewhere.

Fertilize bulbs after they bloom.

Lightly sidedress perennials with an all-purpose 5-10-10 or 10-10-10 fertilizer. Avoid spilling the fertilizer on the plant, and use care not to damage the shallow roots when you cultivate it into the soil.

Many summer-blooming tropical plants such as hibiscus and mandevilla bloom on new growth. Fertilize to encourage more growth and flowers.

Be sure to use fresh potting mix in your containers – old soil has fewer nutrients and may contain harmful bacteria and fungi.

As the growth rate of your houseplants changes with the seasons, adjust your feeding schedule to provide additional food. Feed your plants a good all-purpose houseplant food at half the manufacturer’s recommended rates, increasing the proportion slightly to accommodate growth spurts.



Prune spring-flowering trees and shrubs soon after they bloom. Since they begin setting next year’s flower buds in late summer, it’s important to have them pruned and fertilized before then.

Remove the wilting seed heads from rhododendrons and azaleas so that the plant’s energy can go to foliage growth and next year’s flowers, rather than seeds.

Prune back any damage from winter.

Pines and other conifers can be kept to a compact size by pinching off the new growth candles.

Remove any reverted green shoots on variegated evergreens to prevent them reverting to a single color.

Remove any sucker growths from fruit trees as soon as they appear!

Pinch back leggy bedding plants to encourage side shoots. Pinching stops the terminal growth, thus resulting in bushier plants and more flower buds.

Deadhead perennials and bulbs throughout the blooming season.

Complete pruning of climbing roses to ensure a good supply of new wood for next year’s flower formation.

When you prune, pinch and trim, try rooting the cuttings to make more plants.



Make sure lawns and gardens receive an inch of water per week. Hand water new transplants until they become established.

Water your lawn in the morning to discourage fungus diseases.

Consider collecting rainwater for irrigation.

Mulching around the base of your plants will help them retain moisture around the roots.



Always follow label directions when using pesticides.

Address insect and disease problems as soon as you spot them.

In the vegetable garden, monitor for squash vine borers, flea beetles on eggplant and cucumber beetles. In the landscape, watch for bagworms, azalea lace bugs, leaf miners, camellia-tea scale, euonymus scale and aphids, of course. Remove azalea and camellia leaf galls when you spot them.

It is much easier to fight an insect infestation or disease in its early stages than to wait.

Hoe regularly between rows on hot days to make sure the weeds dry up and die.

St. Augustine lawns will likely begin to show chinch bug damage during late May.

Keep roses sprayed for aphids and other pests and diseases such as black spot.

Molehills are often a problem in spring and traps are the most effective way to deal with this problem.

Slugs and snails are out in full force right now … and they are ravenous! Be sure to take steps to control them now, before they have a chance to reproduce and devastate your garden.

The first flowers you see will be on weeds. Work to eliminate weeds, roots and all, before they have a chance to go to seed or you will be fighting them for years to come!

Using a selective lawn weed killer will kill the weeds, but not the grass.

Watch for poison ivy!

Examine conifers for the egg sacs of bagworms and remove before the eggs hatch.

Don’t let vines get out of control – remove or cut them back while they’re manageable.

Don’t apply sprays to fruit trees that are blooming or fruiting.



Take photos of blooming plants you enjoy and put them in your garden journal so you’ll know what to buy for your own garden!

Repot root-bound houseplants. If not repotting, remove the top inch of soil and replace it with fresh compost.

Visit a specialty plant nursery and explore the many varieties of plants available.

Add water lilies to your pond when the water temperature reaches 70.

Apartment dwellers with a patio that gets at least six hours of sun a day can easily grow peppers in containers.

Soon, those tomato plants will start to sprawl all over your garden. Stake or cage them now while they are still of a manageable size.

Give your clay and plastic pots a boost on sunny patios. Elevate pots onto boards to lessen the damaging effects on plants from heat radiated off the hot concrete.

Protect azaleas and rhododendrons from too much light. These shade lovers appreciate a home that only gets morning sun or filtered sunlight.

Got mums? From now until the beginning of July, you can make chrysanthemums bushier and more productive if you pinch half an inch off each stem when they’re 6-7 inches high.

Promptly remove spent flowers from any plant unless your intent is to harvest the seeds. It consumes the plant’s energy to produce the seeds and, in many species of plants (especially annuals), removing the dead flowers will promote further blooms.

May is a good month to repair your lawn. Fill in the bare spots by slightly loosening surface of the soil and sow a good quality lawn seed over the area evenly. Tamp the seed in gently and water. Keep the patch moist by covering with light mulch of lawn clippings.

Work rain-compacted soil around plants and flower beds to provide aeration. Use shallow cultivation to prevent root damage.

Clean out pond filters.

Frequently turning your compost pile(s) will transform garden waste into flower food much faster.

Harvest vegetables when they’re young and tender.

If the weather is dry, you can treat fences, sheds, etc. with wood preservative and stain.

Maintain a 3-4 inch gutter around the lawn edge. This will prevent grass from creeping into borders.

Pond fish will need feeding - a little and often is best.

Put supports in place now for tall herbaceous plants or those with heavy blooms before they are too tall.

Remove dirt and algae from walls, paving and patios.

Setting your mower for a higher cut during the spring months will help the grass grow in fuller and help choke out the weeds.

Remember, birds are still nesting. Keep the feeder full!