Gardening tips for springing into summer

Petunias are perfect for containers and hanging baskets and a great choice for instant colour.
Petunias are perfect for containers and hanging baskets and a great choice for instant colour.

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Today marks the first day of May, a great gardening month and probably the last month you can plan for your summer colour in the garden.

For those with limited space, bedding plants will give you maximum effect and can really make a statement. If you are taking a long-term view then a garden full of reliable flowering shrubs is also an option.

Whatever garden you have, watering and weeding are the key watchwords for May. It is essential to water newly planted fruit trees, roses and shrubs regularly to help their root systems get established.

It is also the time of year when many plants’ demand for water increases as they start their major growth period. Top watering tips include – every time you plant something, water it in well, make a moat of soil round newly planted plants so that water doesn’t run off and goes to the roots, water pots and containers so that water appears right to the top of the pot and get a water butt.

If you have a drainpipe, you have a natural water supply so a simple garden solution for May is to ensure that you have adequate water storage. If you buy and fit a water butt, it will provide you with water for the garden in an environmentally friendly way and on a regular basis.

Annual weeds will be popping up now, so weeding borders once a week to prevent weed seedlings establishing is a good idea. The problem with the most common weeds such as nettles, dandelions and bindweed, is that they are very, very tough. They can continue to grow in conditions that make most garden plants simply fade away – and they do that, in part, by using the moisture, nutrients and light of the plants around them.

A great plant to get you into the summer gardening spirit is the pretty petunia – perfect for containers and hanging baskets and a great choice for instant colour. It can flower all summer long, providing you deadhead regularly, and comes in a variety of colours to suit any garden palette.

Petunias are also available in different blooms including single, double, ruffled or smooth petals. They can be striped, veined or solid in colour and most sold today are hybrids developed for specific design purposes such as fragrance.

They need full sun and can’t tolerate frost but can grow in a wide range of soils and thrive in multipurpose compost when planted in containers.

Keeping on top of garden maintenance is crucial in May. The garden is coming alive so there is plenty to keep you busy. Here are some jobs you should be thinking about this month from the Royal Horticultural Society:

  • Plant out seedlings and young plants,
  • Watering and weeding,
  • Start spraying roses to stop black spot and mildew,
  • Fast growing hedges will need a trim,
  • Plant hanging baskets and containers,
  • Plant salad leaves seeds,
  • Tie up climbers,
  • Feed spring bulbs for next year,
  • Plant out tomatoes,
  • Mow the lawn