What To Do in the Yard in May

If you’ve been waiting for a good time to get some yard chores done, this is it.

You can catch up on almost everything now.


It never hurts to start with the weeds, before they get out of hand.  In gardens, hand pull or spot treat with non-selective herbicide.  Just be careful not to use herbicides on a windy day, and be careful not to spray good plants.  In lawns, hand pull or spot treat with a weed killer labeled for use on your type of grass.

Just avoid lawn herbicide use during the heat of the day, to lower the risk of damaging good grass.


For lawns, it is time to get Saint Augustine grass ready for chinch bug season.  The products that work better are systemic and need time to take effect before these pests begin their destruction.  If you have bahia grass, check for mole crickets now, and treat if needed.

What else does a lawn need?   You can feed it now.  Use a slow release fertilizer which does not contain weed and feed, and has little or no phosphorous.  You can also fill in any bare spots with plugs or sod.  Sharpen mower blades often, and avoid ruts in the lawn by mowing in a different direction each time.  Measure grass blades to make sure they are not cut too low.  If so, raise your mower blades to the recommended height of 3.5 to 4 inches for Saint Augustine and Bahia.

What about the garden?

  • After weeding, apply some mulch to help keep new weeds out and to conserve water.
  • Also, you can prune most everything now, except for camellias.  You have until June 1 to work on azaleas, and all summer to prune most other shrubs.  Prune poinsettias whenever there is 1 foot of new growth.  Take off 4 inches each time.  Use hand pruners on all shrubs whenever possible, rather than shearing right now.  And be sure to feed plants.  Azaleas, gardenias, and camellias need an acid producing formula.
  • Palm trees are also ready for a dose of food now.  Use a slow release palm formula which is similar to 8-2-12.
  • Check plants for mealybugs and scale.  If needed, use an insecticidal soap or an oil spray, and follow the label.
  • Check trees for problems such as areas of sap on trunks and dead or hollow areas.  Train trees to grow with only 1 trunk, and remove weak or crossing branches.  Consult a certified arborist if necessary, to have large trees pruned for wind resistance.  It will be too late once hurricanes are out there.
  • Make sure your orchids are in the shade.
  • You can plant any kind of shrub, tree, bulb, or flower now, assuming it is listed for zone 9b.  Of course you must make sure other conditions are right, such as light, space, soil moisture, and drainage.
  • Remove declining winter annuals, and replace them with some of the heat tolerant ones.  This list includes salvia, torenia, coleus, celosia, butterfly weed, gaillardia, bromeliads, pentas, portulaca, marigolds, moon vine, impatiens, and vinca.

What about veggies?

While the season for regular tomatoes, corn, and beans is over, there are some hot weather options available.  Some of the cherry tomatoes can still produce fruit, and the hot peppers can survive also.  Other options include okra, sweet potato, Southern peas, yams, collards, chayote, and calabaza.

While many herbs won’t be happy during the hot season, there are still some options.  You can plant anise, basil, cardamom, coriander, dill, lemon balm, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, sweet marjoram, tarragon, and thyme.


Heat tolerant bulbs include caladiums, crinum, agapanthus, day lilies, society garlic, spider lily, and rain lily.

As seen below, the Crinum is a good bulb option.

Photo by: Sandi Switek


Need more information:  

For more information about Florida Friendly Plants and Wildlife you can email me at epabon5@ufl.edu or like us to learn about new classes or events at  Gardening in Central Florida  

By: Sandy Switek since 2005 and Eva Maria Pabon Residential Horticulture Agent  

Do you want to read more about gardening? Follow our blog Eva Pabon, Author at UF/IFAS Extension Osceola County (ufl.edu) 


Avatar photo
Posted: May 22, 2023

Category: Florida-Friendly Landscaping, HOME LANDSCAPES, Horticulture
Tags: Eva Pabon, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Gardening

Subscribe For More Great Content

IFAS Blogs Categories