AVENUE May 2014

Page 79


ardening can be both euphoric and manic on any given day in the spring garden. We are pulled in a hundred directions, constrained by time, dominated by Mother Nature and spellbound with the first unfurling apple blossom. In managing a large garden, I always begin closest to the house and work outwards. Striving for perfection in May is self-defeating. Delighting in each day’s tasks keeps me “grounded” both inside and out.



Walk your entire garden to inspect winter damage. Designate a day for “rough cleanup” to remove fallen limbs, twigs and debris. Cart away disposal material to the compost heap.

✓ ✓

Book an arborist for tree work.

Roses: Remove any winter protection, prune-out the deadwood, shape, apply organic fertilizer and mulch. Rake/dethatch the lawn to remove leaves and debris. Mow, apply a pre-emergent crabgrass product, fertilize and re-seed bare spots.

Prune your rosa rugosa to 6 to 12 inches to stimulate bushy growth.

Inspect trees and shrubs for pests, and treat as needed.

Given April’s soggy reputation, avoid stepping into garden beds, as this will lead to compacted soil.

Turn your soil for planting. You are safe to turn your soil when a handful of it crumbles in your hand, not before!


Reattach/repair trellises that support climbing roses and clamoring vines.

✓ ✓

Muck out leaves and debris from frog ponds and water features.

Cut back ornamental grasses (customarily left intact for winter interest) to a uniform height of 6 to 12 inches.

Top-dressing the densely planted herbaceous beds with compost or mulch before new growth emerges is a huge help in time management.

Time permitting, a deep, crisp-edge cut along your beds and borders will not only smarten up the garden but also mask those areas still on your ever-evolving “to do” list!

Perennial beds should be carefully cleaned out by hand to avoid damaging new growth. When all chance of frost has passed, cut back any old fallen foliage that provided winter protection. Top-dress with compost.


Ensure all outdoor power equipment is serviced and sharpened, as it’s advisable to mow the lawns twice in May and trim the hedges for shape/structure.

Peonies need support! Install rings early before your plants become leggy.

Begin spraying an organic cocktail (garlic-based) to combat mosquitoes and pesky deer.

Do greenhouse work. Sow seeds for vegetable and cutting gardens.

Direct-sow peas and radishes in your vegetable garden. Prune late-flowering shrubs, including panicle-type hydrangeas, vitex and butterfly bushes.