Garden Tasks by Month | May in Zone 5

 Dear Garden Diary,

'Tis true. April showers bring May flowers. My perennial garden is just bursting with blooms. Delicate cherry blossoms and perfumed lilacs politely make way for the arrival of showy azaleas, tulips and irises.

Flower posy of yellow daffodils and blue wild violets on a May calendar

This month, I can leave my perennial bloomers to do what they do best, while I focus on... playing in the mud. It's time to get my hands dirty with weeding, mulching and planting. 

What Tasks/ Chores to do in my Garden in May? 
A Garden Maintenance Checklist for Zone 5

Weed it or Weep

☐ Start hand weeding to keep those weeds in check. Remove every bit of the root to prevent re-sprouting. For dandelions, use a handy dandelion tool to get the entire tap root out. 

Direct Sow Seeds

☐ For all-summer long bloomers like zinnias and poppies, sow seeds in early May directly into the beds. Keep flower bed moist for germination.

See: "How to Plant Zinnia Seeds"

Plant Annual Bloomers

☐ Time to hit the garden center and choose annual, long-blooming winners like geraniums, begonias and marigolds to dress up window boxes and deck containers. The safest time to buy and plant tender annuals is after Mother's Day (mid-May), when all danger of frost has passed.

Plant Veggies

☐ Mid-late May is a good time to plant heat loving herbs like basil, dill, fennel, marjoram or rosemary plants.

☐ Late-May is a good time to plant tomatoes, eggplants and pepper plants in the ground.

Care for After-Bloomers

☐ Prune lilacs immediately after they finish flowering in May. Prune later and you will prune off all the buds for next year's blooms. See: "How to prune lilac"

☐ Stop! Don't trim tulip, daffodil or allium leaves yet!

Wait for at least 6 weeks after these bulbs bloom to trim back their leaves. This allows them enough time to absorb energy required for next year's blooms. Leaves should turn yellow before trimming.

Tip: Allium heads dry beautifully on the plant and make a lovely decorative feature in the garden. So, consider leaving them in the garden after blooming is done.


☐ Layer flower beds and garden paths with a thick layer (3-4 inches) of mulch to prevent weed growth and conserve soil moisture.

Lawn Care

☐ For a lush, enviable lawn, apply an organic fertilizer on schedule. For a three application per year plan,  apply first in early May, next in early September and finally in late October/ early November. 

Arrange Flowers!

☐ Cut flowers to bring into the house and enjoy making your own floral arrangements. See: "Expert Tips for Cutting and Arranging Spring Flowers"

In case you missed it, also see:

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