May Gardening Tips

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May is here and our gardens are coming alive. Below are some tips for what you can do in your garden and landscape during the month of May:

Lawn

  • Leave clippings on the lawn – they return nutrients and water to the soil and do not contribute to thatch.
  • Thatch build-up is the result of over-fertilization. If your lawn has a thatch layer thicker than a half-inch, power rake in May to remove thatch.
  • Aerate lawns only if the soil has become compacted.
  • Frequent mowing encourages lawns to thicken and reduces weed problems. Maintain bermudagrass, zoysia, and centipede lawns at 1” tall and St. Augustine lawns at 3-4”.
  • Spray broadleaf weeds with a post-emergent herbicide. The best product to use will depend on the weeds you are trying to control and your turf type.
  • Check lawns for white grubs and apply insecticides by mid-June. Best to control Japanese beetle grubs in May or early June. Use insecticides labeled for grubs like Merit, Advance Lawn Grub Control, and Season Long Grub Control.

Trees, Shrubs, and Flowers

  • Scout for bagworms on shrubs and trees; especially pay attention to junipers, Leyland cypress, and cedars. Cut out or spray with Sevin, malathion, or B.t. (Dipel).
  • If needed, prune spring-blooming shrubs like azaleas, camellias, Indian hawthorn, and oakleaf hydrangea after they finish flowering but before mid-July.
  • Be on the outlook for two common rose diseases: blackspot and powdery mildew. Many fungicides are available to control these diseases including Daconil, funginex, and immunox being the more common ones. Spray applications should be every 7 to 10 days starting in the spring and after heavy rains.
  • Keep an eye on dogwoods, deciduous magnolias (tulip trees), crape myrtle, and viburnum for powdery mildew.
  • Replace winter flowers (pansies, snapdragons, etc.) with heat-loving annuals like coleus, sweet potato vine, vinca, and petunias.

Fruit, Vegetables, and Herbs

  • Plant late-season vegetables such as pumpkins, peppers, cucumbers, okra, and sweet potatoes.
  • Harvest onions, garlic, and potatoes when their tops start to die back.
  • Mulch around vegetable plants to conserve moisture and reduce disease problems.

 Jessica Strickland is an Agriculture Extension Agent, specializing in horticulture for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Wayne County.

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