Gardening jobs to do in May – ‘spruce up’ your plants, decking and furniture before summer

Gardening: Monty Don reveals jobs you can do over Bank Holiday

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Gardens across the country are beginning to reach their peak as the summer months draw closer. Beds, borders pots and vegetable patches are at a crucial stage in the growing season, but what exactly should you be doing to give them a boost before the end of the month? This is your guide to timely gardening jobs to do in May – and there’s plenty to get on with.

What to do in the garden in May

The warmer months are the ideal time to get some key jobs done outside, including planting, pruning, cleaning and sowing.

With so much to do before summer arrives, it’s important to get stuck in right away to give your garden a much-needed boost ahead of peak growing season.

Plants are not the only part of your garden to focus on this month, in fact, garden furniture and outdoor features should be at the top of your list this May.

Refresh garden furniture

Speaking exclusively to, Matthew Brown, Sadolin & Sandtex Technical Consultant said: “Now is the ideal time to spruce up your doors, windows, fencing, decking and garden architecture.”

A simple soap-water clean will leave dirty window frames looking brand new, while a splash of white vinegar will work wonders to polish glass surfaces.

When it comes to painting and staining your decking or wooden furniture, Matthew warned that it is still “very important” to consider the weather conditions.

The change in weather is one of the key factors to consider in May, especially in terms of the temperature.

Matthew said: “Early in the month, the mornings can be damp and the evenings can still see dramatic temperature drops that increase humidity levels which at best will slow down drying times, but at worst can allow moisture to get trapped in the coating film.

“Direct sunshine can create very hot conditions, particularly on dark colours/surfaces so if possible, avoid decorating in direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day if you are able to decorate in better shadier conditions later on.”

For the best results while decorating wooden items, you should:

  • Wash the surface with a pressure washer or hose first
  • Make sure your wood is completely dry before applying stain or paint
  • Avoid leaving garden furniture exposed to the elements while it dries – this allows unwanted moisture to penetrate the wood causing fungus, twisting, warping and splits

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Plant summer bedding

Summer bedding can be added to beds, borders and even hanging baskets right now.

This is a great addition to any garden to add a pop of seasonal colour, while creating a more diverse display in your garden.

Make your garden more diverse

Terry Smithson, Biodiversity Manager at BioScapes said: “Generally, the more complex an ecosystem is, the more effectively it can respond and flex to new challenging situations.

“Adding structure, with deciduous shrubs, longer grass and wilder areas can create areas of dappled light or darker shade where sunlight can warm the ground in spring and, as the canopy comes into leaf, protect the ground from summer drought.”

Encouraging native species such as bluebells, anemones and even wild garlic can all be done before summer arrives
Not only will this add a pop of colour to your borders, it will also provide a tasty addition to your seasonal salads.

Tend to your spring blooms

A common problem with spring bulbs is that sometimes they just don’t flower – causing the leaves to come up ‘blind’ without a bloom.

Securing next year’s display can be done throughout the month with a few simple tricks, the most important of which is removing old growth.

Terry said: “Sometimes the bulbs just don’t have enough energy to flower, perhaps through overcrowding, or if the leaves have been unable to catch enough sunlight. “Removal of the dead flower heads is often beneficial as this will encourage the plant to divert energy from seed production and invest in the following year’s flowers.”

It’s always best to spare the leaves after flowering and to allow them to splay freely, rather than binding, as this ensures they can capture all the sunlight they need.

According to the team at Travis Perkins, other jobs to do in the garden throughout May include:

  • Ventilating your greenhouse on warm, sunny days
  • Watering your garden more regularly during dry spells
  • “Chelsea chop” some of your late-flowering perennials towards the end of May
  • Hoe the ground regularly to keep on top of weed growth
  • Sow gourds like cucumber, squash, pumpkins and courgettes
  • Harvest early crops such as lettuce, radish, winter onions, early broad beans and asparagus
  • Support herbaceous perennials with stakes or canes and twine
  • Plant out tomatoes towards the end of the month
  • Prune early-flowering clematis and deadhead your tulips

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