Your Garden in May

Your Garden in May

The last month of autumn has arrived. Temperatures are dropping and many of our plants are readying themselves for the dormancy of winter; while other varieties are readying themselves to do the complete opposite. Winter is their time to spectacularly show off all that they have to offer.

Mulching is a great way to keep moisture in the soil and to insulate and protect plants from harsh weather conditions. It will work as a blanket protecting the roots of the plants from the cold. There are a variety of mulches that you can use; bark, nut shells, straw and even lawn cuttings, although this should be well composted before use. These organic mulches look good and natural and slowly break down to condition the soil. Instead of raking up all your autumn leaves and discarding them, rake them into your flower beds. If you are lucky to have a garden shredder, then put the leaves through a shredder before using as mulch. Leaves are packed with trace elements which are essential nutrients all plants need. They also feed beneficial insects such as earthworms and micro-organisms which when present in the soil are a sure sign of a healthy soil. Adding plenty of compost to your flower beds will also work as mulch.

Some plants need protection against frost. This is a good time to get hold of frost cover. Cover your frost sensitive plants all the way down to the base as it is often the trunk of the plant that gets damaged by the frost.  Heavy frost can cause the bark of a plant to crack which invariably leads to the plant dying. Move all your pots with frost sensitive plants undercover and away from those icy winds of the Highveld. Do not leave the covering of your sensitive plants until it is too late.

When it comes to your lawn, you can now stop fertilising as your lawn will slowdown in growth as it gets colder. If you must mow your lawn, make sure you raise your lawn mower higher and only cut the tips of the grass that is still growing. If you cut the lawn too short your lawn’s roots which are very shallow and now exposed, will be damaged by the temperature drop, and frost.


For the new season’s colour, prepare the soil before planting by adding plenty of compost and seedling fertiliser. There are a great many varieties to choose from. Pansies come in a wide range of amazing colours and will last way into spring. Other seedlings that you can plant now would be Primula, Sweet Peas, Bellis Perennis, Snap Dragons and Poppies. Keep the soil moist until all the seedlings are well rooted and have established themselves.

Weeding is essential. Weeds compete with most plants, and it is usually your plants that come off second best. Make sure that all weeds are removed properly before sowing seeds or planting seedlings in the flower beds otherwise you will have a problem when trying to remove the weeds intertwined with your plants.

At this time of year, it is critical not to water your garden late in the afternoon and especially when the temperature has dropped considerably. Best time would be in the mornings as there would be enough time during the day for the water on the leaves of the plants to evaporate and the moisture in the ground to soak down deeper into the soil.

Succulents have become very popular through the years. Many succulents’ fleshy leaves change to reds and oranges and give spectacular colour in winter.  Why not create a winter ‘Indigenous Garden’ and plant indigenous Aloes, succulents and a variety of vygies! This will give plenty of colour to your winter garden and it will bring great satisfaction to your soul.

Happy Gardening!