Zone 5-7: May Garden Madness: Weeds, seeds & lots of planning

Zone 5-7: May Garden Madness: Weeds, seeds & lots of planning

Patria Harris

May is the month we've been eagerly awaiting. (Winter? What is that?) The days are getting longer, and the warmth is coaxing our plants out of their winter slumber. It's the month when our gardens come alive with greenery, blooms, and buzzing insects.

You'll notice that as the temperatures rise, so does the pace of growth in your garden. Those seeds you planted a few weeks ago? They're starting to sprout. The seedlings you've been nurturing indoors? They're ready to stretch their roots in the open soil. It's an exciting time filled with anticipation as we watch our garden transform from a barren patch of earth into a lush oasis, and for some of you in warmer zones, you are already enjoying your plants fully outdoors.

But along with the excitement comes a fair share of work. May is no time to rest on our laurels. It's a month of planning, action and lots of sore muscles. From weeding to pruning to planting, there's plenty to keep us busy as we tend to our little corners of paradise.

Here are a few things to consider for this month:


With the increase in warmth and moisture, weeds also start to sprout vigorously. Spend some time each week to tackle these pesky invaders. Grab your gloves and your favorite weeding tool—like the standup weed puller — it's time to go to battle.

Whether you're a fan of the classic hand-pulling method or prefer using a gardening tool, now's the time to show those weeds who's boss. Take it slow, enjoy the sunshine, and remember, every weed you pull is one less competitor for your precious plants.

And here's a tip: once you've cleared out the weeds, consider laying down some mulch to keep them at bay. Not only does mulch help to suppress weed growth, but it also helps retain moisture in the soil, which means less watering for you. Plus, it adds a nice finishing touch to your flower beds, giving them that polished, professional look.

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Now is the time to say goodbye to the spent tulip foliage. As the petals fall and the stems start to wither, it's important to tidy up your tulip patch. Snip off the faded flower heads, then, as the foliage turns yellow and begins to die back, it can be safely trimmed down to ground level.

But don't toss those bulbs just yet! Some tulips are perennial plants, which means they'll come back year after year if properly cared for. Once the foliage has been cleaned up, consider adding a layer of compost or bulb fertilizer to nourish the soil and give your tulips a head start on next year's show.

Direct Sowing Seeds

If the weather is on our side (fingers crossed!), now's the perfect time to get those seeds in the ground and watch them work their magic.
Flowers, veggies—take your pick! Zinnias, marigolds, cosmos, sunflowers, nasturtiums—they're all fair game for direct sowing in May. And don't forget about those veggies. Beans, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, basil—these are the stars of your summer garden, and they're ready to take center stage.

But before you start getting your hands dirty, be sure to check the weather forecast. We don't want any unexpected frosts ruining our hard work. Once you've got the all-clear, grab your trusty trowel and get to planting. Follow the instructions on the seed packets for spacing and depth, and give your new additions a good drink of water to help them settle into their new home.

One of the most crucial factors for these seeds  to germinate is moisture, seeds need water to kickstart the germination process. But here's the catch: they need just the right amount—not too much, not too little.

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During the first couple of weeks after planting, it's essential to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, not too wet, not too dry, but just right. You want the soil to feel damp to the touch, like a wrung-out sponge, but not soggy.
So, how do you achieve this delicate balance? It's all about finding the sweet spot. Check the soil regularly, especially on hot, sunny days when evaporation rates are high. A gentle misting with a watering can or hose nozzle can help keep the soil moist without disturbing the delicate seeds below.

If you're planting seeds in rows, consider covering them with a thin layer of mulch or a floating row cover to help retain moisture and protect them from drying out too quickly, give them a little extra love by watering them gently and consistently until they've established themselves.

Remember, patience is key when it comes to seed germination. Some seeds may sprout quickly, while others may take a bit longer to make their grand entrance. But with a little bit of attention and a whole lot of love, you'll soon be rewarded with the sight of tiny green shoots pushing their way through the soil, ready to take on the world.

New trees and shrubs

May is the perfect time to introduce new trees and shrubs to your garden landscape. With the soil warming up and regular rainfall on the horizon, conditions are just right for these woody wonders to put down roots and establish themselves for the long haul.

But before you start digging, take a moment to consider your options. Think about the specific needs of your garden— Do you need shade, privacy, winter interest or maybe just a pop of color? Consider the mature size and growth habit of the plants you're choosing, making sure they'll fit comfortably in their allotted space without overcrowding their neighbors.

Once you've selected the perfect specimens, it's time to get planting. Dig a hole that's roughly twice as wide as the root ball and just as deep. Gently remove the plant from its container, being careful not to disturb the roots any more than necessary. Place the plant in the hole, making sure it's sitting at the same depth as it was in the container, and backfill with soil, tamping it down gently as you go.
After planting, give your new additions a good soak to help settle the soil and remove any air pockets around the roots. And don't forget to mulch! A layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant will help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and insulate the roots against temperature fluctuations—a win-win for both you and your new green friends.

As the seasons change and the years pass, your trees and shrubs will become the stalwart guardians of your garden, providing beauty, structure, and a sense of permanence that only time can bestow. So go ahead, plant that sapling, tuck in that shrub, and watch as your garden grows into a lush and vibrant oasis for years to come.

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As we dive into May in our gardens, it's all systems go! This is the time when everything starts buzzing with activity—plants are growing, flowers are blooming, and there's a lot to be done to keep things in tip-top shape.

From pulling pesky weeds to getting our hands dirty planting new seeds, it's a busy time, but it's also incredibly rewarding. There's something magical about watching our gardens come to life, isn't there?

So, as we tackle our to-do lists this month, let's not forget to enjoy the little moments—the smell of fresh earth, the satisfaction of seeing our hard work pay off, and the joy of knowing that we're helping our gardens thrive.

May is like our garden's time to shine, so let's make the most of it. Here's to a month filled with growth, beauty, and plenty of time spent outdoors. Happy gardening, everyone!

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