Home & Garden

May is the time to prepare your summer garden

Be sure to remove spent flowers at this time of year to encourage further blooming.
Be sure to remove spent flowers at this time of year to encourage further blooming.

Q. I love the blooms in my garden now, but I know summer is just around the corner. What things should I be doing in my garden in May to prepare for summer? — Charla, Atascadero

A: Gardeners all look forward to May. Plant growth is at its peak, everything seems to be in bloom, and all heat loving summer vegetables can be planted in the vegetable garden.

May is a great time to be outside enjoying the garden, but it’s also the time to prepare the yard and garden for summer.

Prune winter and spring flowering vines, bushes and trees after they complete their bloom cycles. Pinch back chrysanthemums to about 12 inches for flowers with shorter stems in the fall.

Remove spent flowers and deadhead roses regularly to encourage further blooms. Feed your roses every six weeks for continuous blooms.

After mid-May sow seeds outdoors for warm season vegetables, including corn, cucumbers, green beans, melons, pumpkins, winter and summer squash. After mid-May, plant seedlings of eggplant, tomatoes and peppers. In the North County, you may want to wait to plant heat-loving vegetables until the latter part of May when the soil has warmed.

In the herb garden, pinch back the tops of herbs frequently for continual production. Harvest herbs in the morning for best flavor.

If you didn’t fertilize your lawn in April, do so now. Dethatch your lawn if it needs it.

Deeply water trees and shrubs through a soaker hose or drip system. A thorough soaking each week, or twice per month, uses less water than frequent lighter applications. Check sprinkler timers, sprinkler heads and drip emitters, and be sure to apply water during the morning hours.

Above all, enjoy your time in the garden! May is also a great time to plan a visit to an arboretum, or to take a garden tour. It’s inspiring to see landscapes while they are at their very best and during their peak bloom period.


Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners: at 781-5939 from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday and Thursday; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Arroyo Grande; and at 434-4105 from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners Web site at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo/or   e-mail mgsanluisobispo@ucdavis.edu