University of Illinois Extension
Bruce Spangeberg

These articles are written to apply to the northeastern corner of Illinois. Problems and timing may not apply outside of this area.

Stateline Yard & Garden

Yard and Garden Calendar for May

May 1, 1997

With the arrival of May, yard and garden activity will be getting into full swing. Proceed with caution early on for some activities, however, as the weather can still be uncooperative and winter-like. Yet by the end of the month, we could be getting into summer.

For example, vegetable planting should be scheduled with caution. By the middle of the month, the tender vegetables may be planted, such as snap beans, beets, sweet corn, and tomatoes. Wait until the very end of the month for the warm-loving crops, such as lima beans, cucumbers, eggplant, muskmelon, okra, pepper, sweet potato, pumpkins, squash, and watermelon. Also, use patience when putting out annual flowers; it's best to wait a little rather than take a risk, especially if planting lots of annuals.

Early May is a good time for fertilizing lawns. Choose a fertilizer with controlled-release or slow-release nitrogen. There is still time for applying a preemergence herbicide for crabgrass; many fertilizers contain these so crabgrass control and fertilization can be done with the same application. As we get toward the end of May, consider raising your mowing height to help get the lawn prepared for summer. A range of 2 1/2 to 3 inches is suggested.

The hard freeze in early April may have damaged flower buds on spring flowering shrubs and trees. This is most likely the cause of lack of flowers this season. Early indications on the damage to apples varies; take a wait and see approach for your backyard orchard. Freeze damage may also show on the foliage of many trees and shrubs as black discoloration or deformed, ragged growth.

Monitor landscape plantings for signs of early pests. As we advance further into May, the list of pests begins to grow.

Finally, many perennials will be developing and flowering this month. Poor production could be due to weather; but more likely it is telling you it's time for division. Remember that perennials may be low maintenance, but not necessarily no maintenance.


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