Rosie shares her gardening tips for May
If you haven’t already begun to feed your lawn, it’s a good idea to start. Continue to rake/scarify it for a few weeks to clear more of the thatch and moss. Start mowing it more frequently and gradually lower the cutting height of the blades.
I said in April that the forsythia and quince would have finished flowering by April and be ready for pruning. In fact it has been so cold this Spring that this is not the case so if in doubt, I suggest you adopt my general rule that it is time to prune a shrub once it has finished flowering. Conifers and other hedging plants such as hawthorn, only need trimming twice a year: now and at the end of the summer or early autumn but privet and other similar plants grow much faster so will need cutting about every 6 weeks.
We need to continue weeding furiously over the next few weeks, particularly with the type of weeds that spread by producing lots of seeds. Their growth does tend to abate from now on. Weeds that spread under the ground like bindweed and ground elder will continue to grow rapidly throughout the season. When digging these up, try to get all the pieces of root out, otherwise these will become new ‘weed’ plants. You may need to lift a plant or two if the roots of the weed and a plant have become entangled in order to separate them. Once you’re pretty sure you’ve extracted the weed roots from the plant roots you can put the plant back in the ground.
If you have a huge amount of bindweed, in your garden, it might be advisable to deal with it in a different way. It will probably have climbed over other tall plants or shrubs. First of all you need to clear all you can see above ground level but leave a small piece of the bindweed stem sticking out of the ground with a leaf or two, if possible. Clear a small area, immediately around the bindweed stem by cutting the good plants down to ground level or protecting them with a brick or something similar so that none of the weedkiller will get onto the good plant. Then squirt the bindweed stem and leaves carefully with some biodegradable weedkiller. I don’t like to use weedkiller very often but I’ve found this to be the most effective way of dealing with bindweed and brambles. If you only leave a very small piece of the weed sticking out of the ground, you will only need to use a small amount of weedkiller. You will need to continue to squirt it about once a month or maybe fortnightly for at least one season in order to get rid of it all together but it is possible.
After all that talk of weeding, I’m concerned that you might be feeling overwhelmed. If this is the case, I would encourage you to just concentrate on one small area of your garden at a time. Until you feel really happy with that area, try not to even think about tackling another one.
Rethink your borders
Now can be a good time to rethink your borders. It takes courage to alter the whole space all in one go so my advice is to take it slow! Just changing a straight, narrow flower bed into a deeper one with curved edges, can make your garden look more interesting and also create space for more planting. To begin, lay a piece of rope or hose pipe in the shape you think you would like your border. Then stand back and look at it from different angles and if possible, from an upstairs window so that you can make the necessary adjustments until you are happy. Next, cut the line you’ve decided upon, with a spade or a half moon tool and then lift sections of the turf within the line. Dig over the newly exposed earth to clear roots and to relieve compaction and then add organic matter such as manure, compost or leaf mould before you start planting.