Garden Jobs For May

The arrival of swallows, swifts and martins and the white blossom of hawthorn hedges means spring is here. Supplies of nuts and berries will be scarce and visiting and resident birds all need good weather to generate fresh food such as insects and other small animals.


If you live near woodland, you might spot flycatchers, which arrive in May and leave in September. They perch in trees and fly upwards to catch insects in flight and if you grow fruit trees in your garden, you might see a bullfinch that has been tempted in by the fruit buds.

Many gardens will play host to nesting birds so be careful not to disturb them particularly if you have dense hedges or trees. Don’t trim any hedge that has birds nesting in it – wait till the fledglings have flown the nest until you begin pruning. You can put up special nest boxes for swifts and house martins but swallows will nest on any suitable ledge or shelf so watch out for them in sheds and other outbuildings.

It is important to feed birds during the breeding season as parents and baby birds alike will need plenty of energy.

Don’t put out whole peanuts or other large chunks of food as there is a risk that the pieces could be fed by adults to their fledglings which could result in choking. Put out wild bird seed mixes or black sunflower seeds and kitchen scraps such as mild grated cheese, soaked sultanas, raisins and currants, oatmeal, and apples, pears and other soft fruit.

Mealworms are especially nutritious for young chicks and you can buy these live or dried from specialist bird food suppliers, as well as fat balls, another good source of energy.

Put out a variety of bird feeders to attract different species. Hanging feeders will attract finches, tits and sparrows; bird tables will attract robins, doves, pigeons and bramblings, while food scattered on the ground or in ground feeders will attract blackbirds, thrushes, dunnocks and wrens.

Keep your bird bath topped up to provide a source of drinking water for birds. Be aware of hygiene and make sure you change the water regularly and scrub out the bath with a mild detergent to help prevent the spread of disease.

Although it is too late to sow a wildflower meadow you could plant one using plug plants that have been grown on a little in the greenhouse. Spray some weedkiller containing glyphosate on patches of existing grass and plant the pug plants in the bare patches once the grass has died

You could also leave a suitable part of the garden to leave untouched as a wildlife area – choose a small patch behind a shed if you’re worried about it looking untidy.

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