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What to do in May

Inside: Wash throw rugs and hang outside to dry.
Move indoor plants back outside, gradually. If you gave up on your hanging baskets last fall, buy some new ones for the porch.
Complete closet cleanups. Pack away clean winter clothes, rehang those on hangers and follow with dust covers.

Remove, clean and pack up winters curtains and rugs. Replace with sheers and natural fiber rugs or leave windows and floors bare.
Dust wooden furniture and add a coat of wax or polish.

Clean your coffeemaker to remove mineral deposits, which can cause blockages. Pour equal parts white vinegar and water into the tank, with the carafe in place, run the machine for half a cycle, then switch it off. After an hour, turn it back on, and let the rest of the solution filter through. Run two or three cycles with fresh water to clean out any vinegar flavor before brewing coffee.
Outside: It’s not fun but necessary. Weed your garden.

Spray weeds as they emerge. If you don’t want to deal with weeds more than necessary over the summer, weed eat and spray with an herbicide.

Plant tomatoes. Use walls-o-water if necessary. Tomatoes like warm soil, so you can use a layer of black plastic over your garden before planting to catch the heat and warm up the soil. Just be sure to cut it back from around the base of the plants when you do set them out, then gradually remove it altogether.

Clean your outside furniture. It may be time for new cushions.
Fertilize lawns — a good way to remember to do this is to fertilize on each holiday during the growing season. You can’t go wrong.

Cut back roses and fertilize once a month through August.
Plant tender spring bulbs in the garden.

Top dress garden with 2 inches of compost.

Place peony hoops on peonies for support.

Begin watering and mowing lawn as needed.

Clean the siding on your house. Most common types including wood, aluminum, and vinyl, should be sprayed down twice a year with a garden hose to remove dust and grime. Don’t use power sprayers on homes with stucco coverings as this can cause serious damage. Reduce the use of pesticides. Avoid the use of pesticides on your lawn unless you have an identified problem that warrents such materials.

The application of pesticides as a regular routine each year can actually injure the turf grasses and other landscape plants. Herbicides, fungicides and insecticides can kill the beneficial micro- and macro-organisms, increasing thatch buildup and result in lawn disease.

Sharpen lawn mower blades. A dull mower shreds rather than cuts, causing grass tips to brown and inviting the development of disease.

Don’t mow when the lawn is damp. When you do mow, set blades at 2 1/2 to 3 inches tall and leave them at this height for the season. This is the optimum height to reduce water needs and to promote a healthy lawn.

Susan Woody has been a home and garden writer for more than 20 years and is an advanced Master Gardener.

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