May Planting Tips

The month of May often finds gardeners fussing at the delay to work the landscape. This time of year presents challenges because cool soil temperatures limit the actual success in planting annuals and perennials. The landscape still needs plenty of attention in May, so perform routine maintenance on your yard in preparation for planting a profusion of blooms. May planting tips include pruning, planting hardy annuals and preparing gardens for returning perennials and new flowers.

Ornamental Grass

Prune those forgotten clumps of ornamental grass during the month of May. Use pruning shears or hedge clippers to give these grasses a good haircut to remove dead foliage. Make careful cuts to avoid clipping new green growth in the center of the plant. Remove dead clippings from the plant center and the garden bed. Remove old foliage from perennial flowers at this time of the year as well. Clip dead leaves to ground level and move aside protective mulch layers to allow new shoots to emerge. Divide and transplant ornamental grasses during May to create new clumps and thin existing bunches.

Tilling the Garden

Grab the cultivator and take the time during the cool weather to carefully till around perennial plants. Stirring up the soil promotes better drainage and mixes decaying mulch into the soil bed. Throw a 2-inch layer of peat or compost onto the garden bed and work this into the soil. Be careful not to damage tender roots by cultivating too close to the plant.

Watch that Frost

May might signal the end of the cooler months, but this time often features occasional frosty nights. Don't plant annuals or seedlings until all danger of frost has passed for the year. Tender plants can't handle the cold. If you've jumped the gun and planted early, make sure to listen to the weather forecast and cover these plants with sheets, newspaper, plastic or upended pots to protect them from frost damage.


Adding a good layer of mulch to all the planting beds will greatly benefit your plants. Mulch layers should be 3 to 4 inches deep to suppress weeds and retain water. Mulch also regulates soil temperatures which proves beneficial to plant roots during the hot months of the year.

Transplant Summer and Fall Perennials

Take a close look at your late-summer-blooming perennial flowers. If the clump has tripled in size since initial planting, it's time to divide this mature plant. The lack of thick foliage will make splitting the root mass easy. Dig up the entire plant and spray water over the roots to remove soil. Pop apart the roots with your hands or use a trowel to separate sections. Replant one bunch in the existing hole and transplant others to prepared sites. Firm the soil around each plant and water deeply into the soil.

Keywords: May planting tips, May gardening tips, garden care in may

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.