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Enjoy a year of gardening inspiration with RHS membership!

Join the RHS today and you’ll enjoy free, year-round entry to more than 200 spectacular gardens*, including the four RHS Gardens where you can bring a family guest for free each time you visit. Plus, enjoy exclusive access to RHS Shows, a monthly copy of The Garden magazine (worth £54 per year), personalised gardening advice from RHS experts and much more.

All this is yours from just £44.25 when you pay by Direct Debit.

Join online or call 020 3176 5820 quoting 3938.

*Ts & Cs apply – please see above link for details.

Gardener's Diary


In association with the Royal Horticultural Society

The Royal Horticultural Society

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK's leading gardening charity dedicated to advancing horticulture and promoting good gardening.

Their goal is to help people share a passion for plants, to encourage excellence in horticulture and inspire all those with an interest in gardening.

In this section on Laterlife they share their expertise to provide your Jobs for the Month - making sure that your garden is ready for the season ahead.

Find out more about how to become a member of the RHS

Jobs to do in May

Summer's on its way

Top 10 jobs this month

As bulbs fade and herbaceous borders grow in leaps and bounds, it is now clear that summer is approaching. Sowing and planting out bedding can begin, depending on regional weather variations, and you can take softwood cuttings. It's also time to get back into the lawn mowing regime, as the lawn will be loving the warmer temperatures this month brings


  • Watch out for late frosts. Protect tender plants
  • Earth up potatoes, and promptly plant any still remaining
  • Plant out summer bedding at the end of the month (except in cold areas)
  • Water early and late to get the most out of your water, recycle water when possible
  • Regularly hoe off weeds
  • Open greenhouse vents and doors on warm days
  • Mow lawns weekly
  • Check for nesting birds before clipping hedges
  • Lift and divide overcrowded clumps of daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs
  • Watch out for viburnum beetle and lily beetle grubs

Hedges: pruning times

Hedges require formative pruning on planting, plus maintenance trimming to keep them within bounds. Pruning times vary depending on the type of hedge.


Quick facts

  • Prune new deciduous hedges in winter
  • Prune new evergreen hedges in spring
  • Prune established hedges annually to keep them looking good

When to prune hedges

Timing of pruning should take into account the potential for nesting birds (see 'Problems' section below). However in general, these are the optimum timings for pruning hedges:

Deciduous hedges

  • Formative pruning: In winter, just after planting, and for the first two years after planting
  • Maintenance pruning: Each summer

Evergreen hedges

  • Formative pruning: In the spring after planting and for the first two years after planting
  • Maintenance pruning: Each summer

For advice on pruning techniques, see hedges: trimming.

Trimming guidelines for popular hedging plants

Formal hedges


Buxus sempervirens (box): Twice or three times during growing season
Ilex aquifolium (holly): Once in late summer
Ligustrum (privet): Twice or three times during growing season
Lonicera nitida: Twice or three times in growing season
Prunus laurocerasus: Prune twice during growing season


Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (Lawson cypress): Twice, in spring and summer
× Cuprocyparis leylandii (Leyland cypress): Twice or three times in growing season
Taxus baccata (yew): Twice, in summer and autumn
Thuja plicata: In spring and again in early autumn


Carpinus betulus (hornbeam): Once, in mid- to late summer
Crataegus monogyna (hawthorn): Twice, in summer and autumn
Fagus sylvatica (beech): Once, in late summer

Informal and flowering hedges


Berberis darwinii: Immediately after flowering
Cotoneaster lacteus: After fruiting
Escallonia: Immediately after flowering
Lavandula (lavender): Immediately after flowering
Pyracantha: Late summer


Berberis thunbergii: Immediately after flowering
Forsythia: After flowering, remove some older stems
Fuchsia magellanica: In spring, remove old stems
Rosa rugosa: In spring, remove thin twigs


When undertaking work on garden hedges check that there are no birds nesting, as it is an offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 to damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built. The bird nesting season is usually considered to run from 1st March to 31st July (though it may last longer for certain species or multiple broods so always check if in doubt).

With conifer hedges, make sure you do not trim them after August, as this can encourage bare patches to develop in the hedge.


The Royal Horticultural Society

Want more Gardening tips?
Why not view the Royal Horticultural Society's website.

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