May To-Do List

Spring is in full swing. See what gardening tasks our HGTV experts have planned for May. 

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Photo By: Image courtesy of Felicia Feaster

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

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©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

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©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ben Rollins.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ben Rollins

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

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Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of HGTV Home Plant Collection

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Photo By: Image courtesy of Addison Wood

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©2013, Image courtesy of Ben Rollins

Feed the Roses

Feed the soil around your roses if you haven't already. Roses should be getting ready to put on their first bloom, and they are heavy feeders.—Dee Nash/Guthrie, Oklahoma

Hill Potatoes and Corn

Hill up soil around corn plants and top dress with a high nitrogen fertilizer. Also hill up soil around growing potato plants to encourage more potatoes.—Dee Nash

Plant Annuals and Perennials

Plant annuals and perennials, along with tropical plants grown as annuals. If possible, pick an overcast day to keep them from having as much heat shock. Keep all new plants well-watered until they set in.—Dee Nash

Plant Trees and Shrubs That Attract Birds

Plant fruit-bearing trees and shrubs like Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) for your birds.—Dee Nash

Make Tools Stand Out

Keep better track of tools by spray painting the handles in a color of your choice. I like purple because it is easy to find in the garden. I don't lose as many tools this way.—Dee Nash 

Start Summer Veggie Seeds

Sow seeds of warm weather vegetables like cucumbers and squash. Cover seeds with row covers until they emerge and grow larger to prevent birds from stealing your seedlings.—Dee Nash

Sow Summer Annuals

Sow seeds for great cottage annuals like sunflowers, four o'clocks, zinnias, cleome, bachelor buttons and many others. Once seedlings emerge and get their first true set of leaves, thin as indicated on the package.—Dee Nash

Tool Time

It's time to tune-up, clean and sharpen my outdoor tools. — Melissa Caughey/Osterville, Mssachusetts

Lawn Mower Maintenance

It's also time to give my lawn mower a tune-up, sharpen its blades, change the spark plugs, oil and air filter. — Melissa Caughey

Mulch the Flowers

I will add mulch to all of my flower beds to lock moisture in and suppress weeds. — Melissa Caughey

Early Weed Prevention

I'll start getting into a regular weeding routine to keep them to a minimum. — Melissa Caughey

Fertilizing the Lawn

I'm applying an organic fertilizer to the lawn. — Melissa Caughey

Plant Veggies

I'll plant the vegetable garden along with warmer weather crops after the danger of frost has passed later in the month. — Melissa Caughey

Revive the Bee Hive

I'll install new bees into the two hives that mysteriously died this past winter. — Melissa Caughey

Squirrel Solutions

Apartment dwellers have squirrel problems too! Squirrels (I've also seen a chipmunk) have been digging up the potted plants on my patio. I’m going to try to add a thick layer of mulch over some of my pots and see if that helps. — Jessica Yonker/Atlanta, Georgia

Start the Summer Vegetable Garden

This will be our third year having a summer veggie garden at my parents' house in Nashville, Tenn. When I visit this month we'll plant tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and anything else prime for chopping up in a salad. —Jessica Yonker

Take Houseplants Outside

With warm weather here to stay, it’s time to move those indoor plants to the deck to enjoy a little sunshine. It’s also a good time to trim the plants and add some potting mix to the containers to encourage growth. — Mick Telkamp/Raleigh, North Carolina

Make Bug Repellent

Spring has returned, and so have those pesky ticks and mosquitoes. Homemade insect spray can be tailored to repel whatever is bugging us this season. —Mick Telkamp Click [Editors' note: Fragrant herb bundles like these can help keep mosquitos at bay.]

Refresh Bird Feeders

Finches, cardinals, bluebirds and hummingbirds have returned to the yard, and boy, are they hungry. — Mick Telkamp

Pest Patrol

Overwintering pests are re-emerging. Time to survey the crops to determine what control strategies are needed. — Mick Telkamp

Prune Shrubs

I'll cut back winter burn on roses, yews and boxwood.—Kim Visokey/Winnetka, Illinois

Plant Herbs and Vegetables

I'll add fresh organic compost to my kitchen garden and sow a variety of lettuce and herb seeds. I'll check and make sure the bunny fencing is secure! —Kim Visokey

Refresh Potted Plants

Before planting container gardens with summer annuals, replace the top 4-6 inches of soil with new soil (a lightweight, soilless potting mix) and apply a slow-release granular plant food, such as Osmocote.—Danny Flanders/Atlanta, Georgia

Watch for New Growth

Some shrubs got damaged this winter, but are showing signs of new growth. I’m trying hard to not push them with fertilizer until they recover completely, so they won’t be overwhelmed come the hot, dry summer.—Felder Rushing/Jackson, Mississippi

Mulch the Flower Beds

I mulched my flower beds really well with shredded bark, which protects the soil from beating rains and hot sun, while suppressing summer weeds. And it composts right in place to feed my soil.—Felder Rushing

Watch Out for Fire Ant Mounds

I’m watching for new fire ant mounds in my Southern garden. The aggressive, stinging critters spread from old mounds in our wet spring and can quickly take over a landscape. Treat new mounds with granular or liquid insecticides soon while they are still small.—Felder Rushing

Mow Those Weeds!

Spring lawn weeds are disappearing after being mowed a couple of times; as soon as hot weather sets in they will be gone for good—without herbicide sprays!—Felder Rushing

Plant Sweet Basil

I’m planting four different kinds of summer-loving basil, one of my favorite easy-to-grow culinary herbs, including the tall, extra-flowering kind called 'African Blue' (pictured), which is so good for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.—Felder Rushing

Try a Shade Garden

I'm digging a new shade garden for summer enjoyment. In addition to hosta and ferns, I’m adding colorful Heucheras (coral bells) and taller, arching variegated Solomon's seal. And a nice big rock as a strong, eye-catching centerpiece.—Felder Rushing

Give Grafted Tomatoes a Test Run

Love to experiment! I am trying some of the new “grafted” tomatoes—heirlooms grafted onto sturdier, disease-resistant modern rootstocks. They are pricy, but supposedly make much more quality fruit. We’ll see…—Felder Rushing

Adding More Beds

My ambitions are bigger than my garden, so I have found myself this spring digging out more beds in my front yard to make room for coreopsis, hydrangea, red hot poker, verbena and many other beauties. The more I dig, the smaller the lawn becomes, but it is wonderful to see the garden so full of color.—Felicia Feaster/Atlanta, Georgia

Growing Patio Edibles

This year I am supplementing my large raised bed veggie garden with a container-centric deck garden to keep veggies and herbs close, for easy kitchen access. HGTV Home Plant Collection offers several great varieties tailor made for containers, such as 'Mega Mato' and 'Sweet Papi Rojo'. But I am most crazy about the 'Boom Boom' basil in the Patio Collection of edibles, a really good-looking plant in its own right that grows into a lovely ball shape.—Felicia Feaster

Harvest the Lettuce

My leaf lettuce harvest is going strong. I pick outer leaves on plants until the clumps are 5-6 inches high. Then I harvest using cut-and-come again techniques, cutting every other bunch back to leave a stub that will resprout.—Julie Martens/Frostburg, Maryland

Monitor Potato Plants

I monitor potato growth, adding more soil when stems reach 6 inches tall.—Julie Martens

Prune Raspberry Canes

I prune the one-year-old everbearing raspberry canes, removing the top one-third of growth. This causes me to get a heavy harvest on these canes in midsummer before the main harvest from this year’s canes ripens in late summer.—Julie Martens

Critter-Proof the Plants

As perennials start to gain some size, I spray Plantskyydd to keep deer and rabbits out. I have wonderful results with this organic product. One application lasts until fall. I can’t spray Plantskyydd on lettuce, so I cover that with plastic bird netting to prevent deer nibbling.—Julie Martens

Watch for Frost

Late in the month, I check the forecast before tucking warm-weather crops like tomatoes, peppers, beans and squash into the soil. We often have a hard frost in early June.—Julie Martens

Finish the Winter Squash

I inspect my winter stores of butternut squash one more time. I eat the best looking one and bury the innards—strings and seeds—in the compost pile. I’ll have plants for this year’s crop in short order.—Julie Martens

Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

I'll continue to apply monthly pesticide perimeter sprays to my home. I don’t like spraying, but because I live beside the forest, my home is frequently scouted by carpenter ants. A perimeter spray sends them back to the woods.—Julie Martens