May 2012 Garden Tips
May 2011 Garden Tips
- The late April rains were a boon for local gardeners. Not only did it mean that we haven’t had to turn our irrigation on yet, but the soaking gives large shrubs and trees added fortification with which to face the summer heat.
- As you start to water your garden this month, use water-conserving methods such as watering in the early morning or evening, using slow irrigation methods such as drip or soaker hoses.
- If you didn’t trouble-shoot your irrigation system for cracks, leaks and clogs last month, do it now before the rain stops for the season. Dirty filters can wreak havoc, especially if you are on a well. Clean out and replace. Flush out drip systems and make sure all emitters are working. Replace batteries on systems that use battery-operated controllers. Ensure that timers are working.
- Continue to fertilize roses and other heavy feeders. If you have amended your soil with compost and are using an organic fertilizer, you do not need to do much else at this point.
- Now that bloom is past, prune all of your Spring-flowering trees and shrubs – this will force growth and ensure a good bloom next Spring.
- You can still plant/transplant, but watch the sun and heat: when transplanting young plants, use lightweight lawn furniture propped up here and there to create shade for the plants as they get accustomed to their new location. Try to wait until fall for any big planting/transplanting projects, as your water use will be much less and your plants will fare better.
- May is a windy month in most of the County – take care that new plantings, especially trees, are staked properly.
- Continue to feed your lawn. If the thatch layer is more than ¾” deep, de-thatch, as a deep thatch layer can slow or prevent water absorption. Aeration will relieve compaction and make water and air absorption easier. It is possible to have a beautiful, healthy lawn with minimal reliance on chemical fertilizers and insecticides and lower water use. Better yet, remove all or some of it.
- Deadhead your Azaleas and Rhododendrons once they’ve finished blooming. An estimated 70% of a Rhododendron’s energy goes into the formation of seed. Use a whisk broom to lightly dislodge the dead blooms of Azaleas. Use pruners, or your two fingers to remove the spent flowers of the Rhododendrons and cut just above the two new leaflets.
- The ground is still soft enough to make weed-pulling easy –keep it up and you will have fewer going to seed.
- Sow hardy annuals in pots or directly in the garden. Use your bulb planter to dig a hole for those little 6-pack sized annuals. It makes the perfect size hole with just a couple of twists.
- Give a little thought to the placement of your compost pile. It will do its best in an area where it will get a little afternoon shade. If you have the space, put the compost pile in an area where you want to plant the next season, and let that beautiful compost work its way into the soil and you’ll get a running start on improving that area.
- Containers, especially clay pots, tend to dry out and can be rather demanding for water, particularly if they’re in the full sun. So mulch them! You can add a layer of very small bark chips, gravel, decorative stones, or even composted material.
- Stay vigilant about aphids – Spring is the worst time for aphids in Sonoma County gardens – the hot Summer weather drives them away. Use insecticidal soap or spray with water from the garden hose as necessary. Wash off spittlebugs.
- May is one of the best months to be out in the garden in Sonoma County, before it gets hot. Don’t forget to rest in between your chores and simply enjoy the plants and the wildlife.