Tag Archives: gardening tips

Getting the best from your garden in May

Getting the best from your garden in May

Thinking of doing some gardening this bank holiday weekend? Here’s a handy reminder of what type of garden tasks should be completed at this time of year….


Trees shrubs and flowers

  • Stay on top of weed growth by hoeing- ensure that the kitchen garden and ornamental garden is hoed often and efficiently
  • Plant summer bedding into containers with a good compost
  • Mulch beds and borders to improve the moisture of the soil and to prevent weed growth
  • Take cuttings of softwood from perennials such as Verbena, fuschia and geraniums to propagate for next year.
  • Regularly inspect plants for pests looking particularly at the underside of leaves and shoot tips
  • Cut back lavender plants by removing the old flower heads along with roughly 1 inch of new growth
  • Prune spring flowering shrubs that have finished flowering
  • Trim evergreen hedges that have overgrown
  • Ensure that tender and younger plants are covered or moved into a greenhouse if frost is forecast

Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs

  • Begin earthing up potatoes that were planted last month, do so as soon as they break through. Be careful not to harvest potatoes too earl; wait until there are fully visible flower trusses.
  • Mulch under strawberry plants to act as a barrier between the moist and damp soil and the plant; this should help to prevent snails and mould. Feed the strawberry plants once a fortnight with Tomorite.
  • Sow cauliflower and leeks that will be ready to eat in the winter.
  • Sow bean varieties in a sunny position in well drained soil.
  • Salad crops and coriander and parsley can all be sown in succession with about 10 days in between.
  • Asparagus can be harvested when ready; spears no taller than 20cm.
  • Harvest rhubarb by pulling at the stalks. Take between half and a third of the growth at one time, never any more than half.
  • Water newly planted fruit trees well and encourage them to fully establish themselves by removing fruits and blossoms; allowing them to focus on growth.
  • Protect fruit trees such as cherries from birds with netting.
  • Once frosts are truly over plant out tomatoes.
  • Take softwood cuttings of shrubby herbs.

Lawn, pond, greenhouse and wildlife

  • Mow the laws once every week and apply a spring lawn feed if you haven’t already done so earlier this year.
  • If you desire a short lawn, gradually reduce the height of your cut. Leave lawns that have been recently sown for at least 5-6 week
  • Keep the greenhouse aerated by allowing airflow on sunny days.

For everything you need to get the best results in your garden, visit one of our Exeter Garden Centres today.

Colourful autumn maple leaves on a tree branch. Yellow autumn leaves

Top Tips for gardening this October

As we move nearer winter, October is definitely the time to ‘batten down the hatches’ as it were, in the garden! Here are our top gardening tips for October.

  1. Plant up your patio containers

Remove dead and spent summer flowering bedding and replace the compost in your pots. Layer spring flowering bulbs in your pot (daffodils near the bottom, then tulips then crocus. Then top your pot with something flowering now like cyclamen, pansies or violas. Put your pots on pot feet so they don’t stand in water.

2. Clear leaves

You can clear leaves by running them over with the lawn mower as this will chop them up. If your mower collects the cuttings, use the shredded leaves to make a good mulch for borders.  Add a 5cm-deep layer, but try to keep the mulch from touching the stems of any shrubs and plants.  The mulch will help the soil retain moisture and reduce weed growth. As the leaves rot, they improve the soil. It can take around 2 years to fully rot!

If you don’t have a mower you can’t beat the traditional rake for gathering leaves. Once you have raked into a big pile, use some leaf grabbers (like oversized hands) to scoop them up for either your composter or borders.

3. Trim hedges

Trimming the hedges

Cutting a hedge with clippers

This is the last chance this year to get your hedges nice and tidy for winter.

4. Clean your greenhouse

Ensure you have disinfected your greenhouse and got rid of any lingering bugs before you start to bring tender plants and new sowings inside. Read our dedicated blog post to find out more.

5. Divide any clump forming herbaceous plants.

Once you have removed the woody central parts of the clump, re-plant the healthier smaller clumps around the garden. Rhubarb crowns should also be divided now to create new plants.

6. Plant garlic cloves

Plant with the pointed end up and space bulbs about 10cm apart.

7. Plant hyacinths in bulb glasses for Christmas gifts.


These bulbs can be purchased individually and look lovely when given as a gift. We also sell special gift packs containing everything you need to grow these scented plants for interest in the house.

8. Protect vegetables from pigeons

Net your cabbages, kale and Brussel sprouts before pigeons get to them.

9. Prune climbing roses

Start by removing any dead, diseased or dying shoots. Then cut some of the old woody branches to the ground. You should always retain a max of six young vigorous shoots/stems and these should be secured to supports.  Don’t leave any stumps at the base as they will collect rainwater and rot. Finally shorten side shoots on the remaining stems by one third. This will encourage branching in the spring.

10. Renovate your lawn

Remove layers of thatch with a spring-tine rake or scarifier. Then stab a garden fork around your lawn to aerate before applying an autumn lawn feed. If necessary this is the last chance this year to sow or patch up your lawn. If you use a grass seed,  cover newly sown areas with clear polythene. This will protect the seed from cold and heavy rain. Light rain will help germination so don’t cover every day!

11. Net your pond

  • During the autumn netting your pond will stop leaves from falling into the water, where they will rot. As the leaves rot they introduce noxious gases that alter the chemical balance on your pond water. This can be harmful to both plants and fish. Netting is also useful to protect your fish from hungry cats and herons.

For more gardening advice, pop into one of our Exeter garden centres this October. Our staff look forward to assisting you.