These tips apply to those in USDA Zone 8 of Georgia but may apply to other regions in the southern United States.
HOORAY FOR SPRING! May is a frantic month in Southern gardens. Warmer spring weather means there’s lots to do! There’s flower gardens and veggie gardens to plant. Perennials suddenly appear out of nowhere and demand attention. The lawn is growing and there may be weeds to eliminate. You may not need a list of what to do in the garden in May, because it is staring you in the face every time you walk through your landscape and gardens. But here are some reminders of what you can do. Don’t panic:-)
MAY Landscape & Garden Tips
1. Plant perennials: For those of you who are new to gardening, perennials are flowering or foliage plants that return year after year after you plant them in your garden. Hundreds of varieties of perennial plants begin arriving at the Nursery during May. Perennial plants can be planted in perennial garden beds, as accents or in groupings in landscape beds, or containers to add vibrant splashes of color in just about any setting in your landscape.
Whatever the situation or need, there is a perennial plant that fits! There are sun-loving perennials and shade loving perennials; wet soil perennials and dry soil perennials; butterfly attracting perennials and hummingbird attracting perennials. There are spring flowering perennials, summer flowering perennials, fall flowering perennials, and evenwinter flowering perennials. And then there’s long blooming perennials that bloom from spring to frost. Got deer? No problem. There are many deer resistant perennials that deer turn their nose up to. There are fragrant perennials for adding sensory appeal to your garden, and cut flower perennials you can use for fresh or dried flower arrangements. Need to fill the gaps between stepping stones or pavers, there are creeping perennial plants to fill them. See, we weren’t kidding. There’s a perennial plant for every situation!
2. Plant a Lawn: If you want to plant a new Bermuda, Centipede, St. Augustine, Zoysia or other warm season lawn grass from seed or sod May is a great time to do so. Early planting gives these grasses more time to establish themselves before the cool season. When planting a bermuda lawn from seed make sure to use “turf-type” bermuda seed. ‘Common Bermuda’ is best suited for pastures. Turf-type Bermuda grasses, such as ‘Sahara’, display excellent overall turf quality similar to that of Tifway Bermuda 419 sod.
3. Plant Flowers: May is a great time to plant seasonal flower beds and container gardens that will add vibrant splashes of beautiful, eye-catching color in your gardens. The choices of colors and textures are endless. Follow the links below to get some great tips and ideas for designing and planting beautiful flower gardens that will be the envy of all your neighbors!
4. Plant a Vegetable Garden: In the South, May is great time to plant vegetables in the vegetable garden or in container vegetable gardens. By now, all chances of frost have passed. If you planted your vegetable garden a month or so ago, May would be a good time to plant a second crop to extend the harvesting season.
5. Plant Fruiting & Edible Plants: What could be more enjoyable and rewarding than installing a landscape you can eat? At the Nursery, you’ll find a lot of hardy fruiting bushes, trees and vines that are all edible, and all perfect for use in the home landscape. There are so many types, you could plant your entire landscape in nothing but hardy edible plants and trees!
NOTE: Due to shipping, handling and packaging costs, the prices for plants in our online store are higher than at the nursery in McDonough. Not all of the fruiting plants and trees at the Nursery are available in our online store, and not all of the ones you see in our online store are available at the nursery.
6. Plant Herbs: May is a great time to plant herbs in garden beds and containers. At the Nursery, you’ll find a great selection of the types and varieties that perform best in the north-central Georgia area.
7. Plant Shrubs and Trees: May is a great time to plant all types of evergreen and flowering shrubs and trees. If you need some help with landscape design, check out Do-It-Yourself Landscape Design Tips & Ideas, or consult with one of our professional landscape designers at Wilson Bros Landscape. You can check out many of the shrubs, trees, ornamental grasses, roses and more that we carry at the Nursery on our online store at WilsonBrosGardens.com.
NOTE: Due to shipping, handling and packaging costs, the prices for plants in our online store are higher than at the nursery in McDonough. Also, we carry many, many more plants at the Nursery than are listed in our online store, and a few of the plants in our online store, such as Bamboo, are not available at the Nursery. Call us to confirm availability. (770)954-9862
1. Fertilize warm season lawn’s: If you have yet to feed your Bermuda, Centipede, St. Augustine or Zoysia lawn it’s time to do so. If you are on one of the Wilson Bros DIY Lawn Care Programs it is now time for Step 2: the application of a lawn fertilizer that contains a weed preventer. If you apply a weed & feed type fertilizer, make sure you get the right type. Centipede and St. Augustine lawns require a specialty weed and feed that contains Atrazine weed killer.
CAUTION: If you are planning on overseeding your Bermuda or Centipede lawn within the next 8 weeks, do not use a weed and feed fertilizer or one containing a weed preventer. Instead, use a lawn starter fertilizer at seeding time.
TIP: Aerating and/or dethatching the lawn will allow water and fertilizers applied to penetrate deeper into the soil, which helps promote a deeper root system and less attention to watering during summer. Use a garden fork or aerating machine to punch holes and/or pull plugs over the surface of your lawn. If there is heavy thatch build up, April is also a good time to thatch and aerate before fertilizing. Thatch buildup can smother your lawn and provide an environment for diseases. Remove thatch with a brisk raking, or with a de-thatching machine rented from your local tool rental store.
2. Fertilize Perennial Plants: If you didn’t feed your perennial plants in April, go ahead and feed them now with a good flower fertilizer or natural or organic plant food. If you’re unsure as to the nutritional needs of a specific type of plant don’t hesitate to ask us any questions you might have when you’re at the Nursery, or contact us here.
3. Fertilize Roses: If you haven’t fertilized your roses yet, go ahead and fertilize them now and again as directed on the product label. We feed our roses with Fertilome Rose & Flower Food, which contains a systemic insecticide. Alternatively you can feed your roses with a natural or organic plant food.
4. Fertilize Shrubs and Trees: If you didn’t fertilize shrubs and trees in April you can do so in May. Wait to fertilize spring-flowering shrubs until their flowers have started to fade. Fertilize shrubs and trees with a well-balanced shrub & tree type fertilizer, such as Fertilome Tree & Shrub Food, or a “goof proof,” non-burning natural plant food such asNitroganic Organic Fertilizer. Follow application instructions on the product label.
5. Apply Pelletized Lime to Lawns: If you have had trouble growing a healthy and beautiful bermuda, bluegrass, fescue or zoysia lawn it could have to do with the pH of the soil. Bermuda, bluegrass, fescue or zoysia lawn grasses thrive in soil with a neutral pH between 6.5 and 7. When the pH is acid (between 4.5 and 6.5) the root systems of these types of grasses cannot uptake nutrients and the grass will suffer. Application of lime can be applied to adjust the pH. On the other hand, centipede and St Augustine lawns prefer an acid soil.
1. Prune Spring-Flowering Shrubs and Other Plants: Azaleas and other spring-flowering shrubs can be pruned right after they have finished blooming. If your spring flowering shrubs have long finished blooming, and have put out lots of new growth, it would be best to leave them alone or maybe only snip a stray branch here or there for shaping purposes.
SEE: All Pruning Articles
2. Remove Sucker Growths From Trees: Suckers are those pesky shoots that emerge from the base of fruit trees, crape myrtles and other types of trees. Because they can rob valuable energy, make sure to cut them off with a sharp pair of hand pruners as soon as you see them.
3. Pinch and Transplant Spring Flowering Bulbs: Break off spent daffodil flower heads but continue to feed and care for the plants until the foliage has died back naturally. Old plantings of daffodils may be divided and moved when they have finished blooming. Water them thoroughly after transplanting. It is best not to dig or move other spring flowering bulbs until their foliage has died completely.
4. Deadhead Perennials, Roses and Other Flowering Plants: Keep your flowering perennials, annuals, roses and other flowering plants tidy by snipping or pinching off spent flowers. Doing so will also encourage a fuller, healthier plant that produces more flowers throughout the season.
Adjust your mower deck to a higher setting As the temperatures go higher so should your lawn grass, especially if you don’t provide supplemental irrigation during dry periods of summer. Adjust the height of your mower to leave at least an extra inch or two of height on cool season lawn grasses such as fescue and bluegrass, and maybe an extra half-inch to inch for warm season grasses such as Bermuda, Centipede and Zoysia. Lawn grasses store water in their foliage so leaving the grass taller helps the grass to retain moisture to fight summer heat and dry spells.
Apply systemic insect control on certain types of plants in the landscape Systemic insecticide drenches can be applied during May that will provide season-long insect control on crape myrtle, roses, azaleas and various other types of plants and trees which are often visited and damaged by insect pests.
Inspect your plants for insects Insects usually begin to show up in larger numbers during the month of May, when temperatures are on the rise. When inspecting your plants, don’t forget to look on the underside of leaves where many insects such as aphids, lacebugs, and other pesky critters hang out during the day. Keep in mind that most insects you see on your plants do very little if any damage. Make sure to positively identify an insect before spraying it. Otherwise, you might be defeating the purpose by killing a beneficial insect that will eat or ward off the harmful insects! Whenever spraying an insecticide on a flowering plant to control harmful insects, to avoid killing the beneficial pollinating insects, avoid spraying the flowers.
Inspect your houseplants Carefully examine your houseplants for pests and problems. It is much easier to fight an insect infestation or disease in its early stages than to wait! As the growth rate of your houseplants increases with the seasons, adjust your feeding schedule to provide additional food. Feed your plants a good all purpose house plant food at half of the manufacturers recommended rates, increasing the proportion slightly to accommodate growth spurts. Overuse of fertilizers can cause root and foliage burn, as well as the death of the plant. Mist your plants regularly. This adds to the humidity, keeps the leaves cleaner and healthier, and helps to prevent spider mites.
Control slugs and snails – These critters are out in full force right now. Be sure to take steps to control them now…before they have a chance to reproduce and devastate your garden. Use a Snail & Slug Bait or set jar lids filled with beer in areas they roam.
Control weeds in the vegetable garden – Stay on top of the weeds in the vegetable garden by either pulling them by hand or spraying them with an irganic, citrus oil based weed killer.
Add to and maintain your compost pile or bin Continue to add table scraps, leaves, grass clipping, garden refuse and other forms of organic matter to your compost pile or compost bin. The compost pile should be kept damp. Frequently turning the pile will turn your garden and kitchen waste into flower food that much faster!