May Garden Chores

by Gail Cocker, Master Gardener, SCMG

For Canadian Hardiness Zones 4 and 5

There is no denying that spring is here.  Even in my 4B garden I’ve got snowdrops blooming, iris up and the hellebores are starting to show off.  Time to finish the clean up!  My seedlings will be happy to get out from under the “Gro Lights” this month, but they are tender, so I slowly introduce them to the real world.  Here are some jobs that you will want to tackle this month.


Garden Chores for the Month of May:

  • Rake and remove mulches from flower beds. Be careful to avoid snapping off the delicate new shoots of peonies, hostas and day lilies
  • Cut down last year’s perennial foliage and toss in the compost
  • Plant spring containers with potted bulbs, forsythia branches, pussy willows. Annuals that will tolerate cold soil are pansies, osteosperum daisies and artemesia
  • Top dress lawn with ¼” of compost, overseed with grass seed to fill in bare spots
  • Harden off plants started indoors
  • Plant perennials, shrubs, trees
  • Prune spring blooming shrubs and trees after flowering; azalea, deutzia, elderberry, forsythia, lilac, ninebark, spirea, weigelia
  • Avoid pruning Bigleaf hydrangea, Oakleaf and Mountain hydrangea, rhododendron, holly and viburnums where you want to have berries for the birds.
  • Sow vegetables and flowers seeds that prefer warmer soil
  • Transplant tender flowers and vegetables after risk of frost passes
  • Give gardens a fresh layer of mulch to suppress weeds and retain moisture
  • Check trees for tent caterpillars and other insects