A list of simple May garden chores and tasks you can do in this busy gardening month for fruits and vegetables, flowers, and general yard and landscaping tasks. Includes a handy printable checklist!
May is probably the busiest month in Pacific Northwest and other zone 6-8 similar gardens, both for vegetable and flower beds.
The garden chores in May consist of lots of planting, sowing, some weeding and mulching - and maybe even the start regular watering, depending on where you live.
In the vegetable garden almost everything can be safely planted this month and so there is a rush to get the warm weather crops and perennials planted between now and June.
PRO TIP: In our zone 8, Oregon Willamette valley garden, I usually wait to plant peppers and corn between the last week of May and the first week in June, because they prefer nights above 50 degrees as the low. May, especially the first weeks, can still have some chilly nights, so they do better planted later. Be aware of your own area's microclimates.
In the flower beds, I always feel like May is one of my last chances to catch the weeds while they're still small and the ground is moist enough that they pull easily.
I always want to try and get all the beds newspapered and mulched because my gardening life will be so much easier if I do, but in reality, we're often still mulching in June and even into July.
Whatever. As long as it gets done, that's the important part!
We also can plant pots or areas of the garden with the tender annuals that provide beautiful seasonal color for our homes and yards.
Grab this free printable below, print the list, and add any of your own specific chores to the notes section - simply click to open in a new window and download:
PRO TIP: Add this page to your free Garden Notebook Journal!
Want my best vegetable gardening tips and techniques to keep it simple and manageable? (Yes, it CAN be done!)
May Garden Chores
Vegetable & Fruit Garden
- Cover beds for warm weather vegetables with black plastic to kill weeds and warm the soil for a few weeks leading up to planting (especially helpful for bean, corn, pepper and pumpkin plantings) - this is also needed when using the no-till method.
- Sow more rows of: carrots, beets, and lettuce (TIP: sow a smaller amount of lettuce every month to provide a steady supply without a glut from one large planting).
- Plant cabbage seedlings (including Chinese & Pac Joi) to mature after your March and April planted varieties mature for a steady harvest.
- Plant starts of brussels sprouts, kale and tomatoes. Wait until the end of the month to plant pepper plants.
- Direct plant seeds of warm weather vegetables: beans, melons, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins. Corn may be planted at the end of the month, or left to the beginning of June.
- Control insects by hand-picking, covering with row covers or using a less harmful insecticide like neem or Bt. (TIP: covering new starts with floating row covers also encourages faster growth when compared to uncovered seedlings.)
- Place pheromone traps in apple trees (I've used these for a number of years and saw a dramatic decrease in codling moth destruction).
- Plant herb seedlings.
- Continue laying newspaper and mulching your garden beds as you clear them of weeds (yes, you see this every month in the spring - it's that important and could take awhile to actually complete).
- Plant tender plants like geraniums, fuchsias, begonias and impatiens.
- Plant dahlia and gladiolus tubers mid-month if you didn't last month.
- Deadhead early blooming flowers and shrubs like lilacs, azaleas, rhododendrons and spring blooming bulbs. Prune shrubs that need it after bloom.
- Fertilize roses and flowering shrubs that need it (if you annually lay compost, that's enough for most flowering plants, but a few might benefit from additional feeding like hydrangeas and rhododendrons).
- You can still plant new lawn this month in the north (after this, you should wait for fall). Existing lawns: mow, mow, mow.
- Spot weed lawns and fertilize early if didn't do it in April.
- Lightly sheer evergreens and hedges to shape.
- Test watering system, replacing hoses or sprinklers that need it. We installed a great inexpensive DIY automatic watering system for our raised beds and I'm LOVING it.
- If you started seeds indoors for peppers, tomatoes, basil and other warm weather crops, harden-off gradually over a period of a week, allowing the plants more and more hours outside until able to stay out overnight.
See all the month-by-month garden chores lists here.
Make This Year's Garden A Success!
Old post, but I'm wondering what pheromone traps you use for your fruit trees? Could you provide a link?
Sure, Megan - here's an affiliate link to what I used for the apple maggots (I only trapped for them, as the coddling moths are yucky, but don't destroy the fruit like the maggots do): http://amzn.to/1TuS1Yx
I also bought pheromone lures to put inside (http://amzn.to/1TuTRbO)- though it seems from these comments that maybe you don't have to? The color of the balls is enough to lure the moths? I'll have to experiment with that. (I'll add these to the post, too.)
I made a garden bed and posted about it recently. I write this because I just went back and read your post of 2009 and 2011 and I did just what you mention in those posts.
Unknowingly a copy cat, heck I even used pea gravel the same way you did years ago. I felt so proud making that bed and the respective post and now I feel a bit deflated.
I knew wasn't inventing the wheel but I really thought the gravel part was "all my idea". Darn it. 😀
Too funny!! I'm always relearning that there is "nothing new under the sun," too. 🙂 Oh, and your bed looks so much nicer now!
Thank you so much for this series. I cannot recall how I first stumbled upon your blog, but this series is what kept me coming back. I had so long wished for seasonal lists like these to build from in my own planning! Your home is an inspiration as well. 🙂
I'm so glad you are finding it useful, Lindsay!! It's so nice to know - thanks!!
Michele Laughlin says
All great suggestions! We just planted our squashes, beets, radishes and tomatoes in raised bed planters (walls of water covering the squash and tomatoes) at our rental in Carson City. It's a small cry from our huge garden in Klamath Falls but at least we will have some fresh veggies! We really had to carve out some space with sunshine- this yard is beautifully landscaped, but all bushes, trees and ROCK. Ugh. I added some pansies to the front yard for some color and we had to be careful in the back....it's not ours,but we will be here at least through harvest! I'll try to post some pictures as soon as possible- I used a couple of clever pinterest ideas to make the garden look pretty!
I love how you're using what you have right now, Michele! I think your veggies will taste all the sweeter for it. 😉
I only have a tiny postage stamp sized garden but wish I had so much more when I read this. I have created some garden to the front but it is formal with box and standard bay trees so little to tend to. I do have an idea for my back garden but very limited in space so I cannot grow many flowers, however, I am thinking of doing some vegetable boxes down the sunny side of our house.
I bet you get a lot of satisfaction out of your garden.
Any bit of space where you can dig and grow is better than nothing, Lee - it connects us to life and the world in such a great way. 🙂
Have you heard anything new this year about that impatien creepin' crud?
Ugh. From what I read, Mindy, it's still making its way into more areas this year - so we can't plant in the same areas, which is a big bummer, since it was one of the reliable shade plants and those shade areas need something every year. I bet you used a lot! 🙁
Shirley @ The Gardening Life says
I've been researching this myself and apparently the New Guinea impatiens has not been afflicted with downy mildew.
Shirley @ The Gardening Life says
I don't grow a ton of impatiens, Shirley, but do grow both regular and New Guinea in pots each year and haven't had any problems like Mindy. I wonder if it's where you're located?