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

May Yard and Garden Calendar

May 6, 1999

Even though May arrived with excellent, summer-like weather, use some caution with yard and garden activity this month. Overall, there is plenty to do.

Caution is primarily needed when planting vegetables and tender annuals. Tender vegetables, such as snap beans, beets, sweet corn, and tomatoes, can be planted by the middle of the month. However, it's best to wait with warm-loving crops, such as lima beans, cucumbers, eggplant, muskmelon, okra, pepper, sweet potato, pumpkins, squash, and watermelon, until the end of May. With most 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. Even though the past few days have been warm, it's not too late for applying a preemergence herbicide for crabgrass. Many lawn fertilizers contain these so crabgrass control and fertilization can be done with the same application.

While mowing is taken for granted, it has a big influence on lawn appearance. 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. Mowing higher will also help prevent crabgrass from being a big problem like it was in 1998.

Newly developing foliage on apples needs protection from disease, such as apple scab. Use captan or a multipurpose fruit spray. Read and follow all label directions. Multipurpose sprays also contain insecticides, which help control early season insects.

As mentioned last week, keep up with developing weeds in landscape beds and garden areas. Mulching helps reduce weed problems in planting areas considerably. In wooded areas, garlic mustard is now blooming and should be pulled to prevent seeds from being released.

Finally, with many perennials emerging, developing, and even flowering this month, this is a good time to evaluate growth. If growth is poor, in particular if the center of the clump thins out, it may be time for dividing. Remember that perennials may be low maintenance, but not necessarily no maintenance.


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