Champion Banner Ad

Kentucky Living Home

Garden Almanac

Read previous Q&As, browse by category, and ask your gardening question now!

Check it out!

May 2014

Container gardens
Following what I am now calling "a very entertaining winter" in Kentucky, May seems so easy and exciting. You can do almost anything your heart desires in the garden in May—including planting annuals, perennials, trees, vines, and shrubs. What is most exciting is that it is time to plant your porch and patio containers. This is one of my favorite parts of gardening. Placing a colorful and lushly planted container on your front porch, deck, or patio really brings life to and brightens up the area. A favorite trick of the trade is to pick the largest container possible for the site. They may seem large in the garden center but when you get them home they seem to shrink. One large amazing container display is better than three small ones and it's easier to maintain. Select something large and dramatic as the center focal point and then fill in around it to complete the theme. Place containers where you can enjoy seeing them from both inside and outside of the house. A large container placed within a landscape bed can bring a whole new excitement to an old landscape.

Summering your houseplants outside
I also like to take many my interior houseplants outside for the summer. They are an important part of my screened-in porch and back patio environment for the summer months. Don't take them out until we have consistent night temperatures in the low 50s and always  place them in part shade to shade to prevent sunscald. This can be devastating to plants that spent all winter in the low light indoors and are not acclimated to the intensity of the natural sun.

The edible garden
It is full swing in the vegetable garden and is time to plant all your warm-season crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, beans, and pumpkins.  Don't feel like you have to rush, it is perfectly appropriate to wait until the middle or end of May to plant some crops like  basil, sweet peppers, and hot peppers, which prefer warm soil and consistently warm air temperatures. As some of your cool-season vegetables are harvested, that will open up room for more warm-season vegetable opportunities.

The spring lawn
With warm weather and ample moisture, lawn grasses are growing so quickly that you may need to mow twice a week to keep up. Make sure to keep your mower blade sharp to get the cleanest cut, which is better for your lawn grasses and makes the lawn look much smoother after you mow. No fertilizers are recommended or needed at this point and should be avoided to prevent unnecessary growth. Weed control, on the other hand, is very important now and should be applied according to the package directions. 

Spring seeds
Weeding is a chore for spring, summer, and fall so don't let them get ahead of you. Pick a time each week and dedicate it to manually remove weeds in your landscape beds. It can prove to a very relaxing time and you may actually start to look forward to it. Using a total kill herbicide like Roundup can provide some help in the weed management area, especially for weeds that are hard to pull like dandelions and Bermuda grass. Roundup is not an organic treatment, so read and follow all label directions carefully.

What's new?
Are there any hot new trends in landscaping going on? The biggest is the increased interest in growing all things edible. If you are considering planting a tree this year, why not consider a fruiting version of an apple or pear tree. The ornamental versions are always popular and the fruiting versions are basically the same except you get the added bonus of tasty fruit to enjoy grown right from your own property.