May Gardening Tips


  • Frequent mowing encourages lawns to thicken and reduces weed problems. Maintain bermudagrass, zoysia and centipede lawns at 1” tall and St. Augustine lawns at 3-4”.

  • Leave clippings on the lawn – they return nutrients and water to the soil.

  • Aerate lawns only if the soil has become compacted. The best time to aerate a lawn is when the grass is actively growing from May to June.

  • Thatch build up is the results of over fertilization. If your lawn has a thatch layer thicker than a half inch, power rake in May to remove thatch.

Trees, Shrubs and Flowers

  • Be on the outlook for two common rose diseases: blackspot and powdery mildew. Many fungicides are available to control these diseases including: Daconil, funginex, and immunox being the more common ones. Spray applications should be every 7 to 10 days starting in the spring and after heavy rains.

  • Scout for bagworms on shrubs and trees; especially pay attention to junipers, Leyland cypress, and cedars. Cut out or spray with Sevin, malathion, or B.t. (Dipel).

  • If needed, prune spring blooming shrubs like azaleas, camellias, Indian hawthorn and oakleaf hydrangea after they finish flowering but before mid-July.

Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs

  • Plant late season vegetables such as eggplant, pumpkins, peppers, cucumbers, okra, and sweet potatoes.

  • Do not forget to sidedress or fertilize your vegetable garden six to eight weeks after germination.

Jessica Strickland is an Agriculture Extension Agent, specializing in horticulture for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Wayne County. Forward any questions you would like answered from this month’s column to

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