May Day Weekend Gardening and Shed Ideas

What three words does everybody want to hear?

If you answered, ‘I love you’ – sadly, you’re wrong! The correct answer is in fact: Bank. Holiday. Weekend. 

And with May Day weekend upon us and the good weather finally here (fingers crossed) it’s time to get back out to the shed. We’re brimming with spring cleaning and maintenance tips for sheds and gardens. 

That’s why below, we’ve come up with a quick read on our top tips and ideas for you and your outdoor space this May Day.

Check it out.

What is May Day?

The origins of May Day go back a lot further than 1978 (when it became a public holiday).

May Day was originally celebrated by Romans and Celtics alike – albeit, in different ways. Where the Romans celebrated the festival of Flora, the Celts celebrated Beltane. Both of these festivals were dated May 1st to mark halfway between spring and summer.

blue cloudy skies looking up from the base at the top of a maypole
Credit: Unsplash

What is May Day about?

May Day is celebrated all around the world, but not always for the same reason. In many countries, May Day is celebrated as International Workers Day. And in Germany, the eve of May Day is celebrated as Walpurgisnacht.

Even in the UK, since ancient times, May Day celebrations have changed a bit. But some themes still remain.

For example, the celebration of new life and fertility have stuck around. And as we can finally get back into our gardens and sheds, it feels like we’ve been given a new lease on life. 

You might see (or even remember!) May Day being celebrated around the Maypole as well. Or, you might recall seeing Morris dancers with their hats, sticks, and flags. And there’s always the May King and Queen to be crowned. And the Green Man’s bound to show up!

And that lockdown is over, we’re hoping we can all get out and see some of these May Day festivities. But even if you can’t get out and about – you can still make the most of the May Day weekend.

Keep reading to see growing and pruning tips for your garden and cleaning and maintenance tips for your garden shed. We’ve even thrown in some May Day activities for having a ball with the whole family!

plastic black and white shed on a patio with a low brick wall backed by trees and fields

May Day in Your Shed

A three day weekend and a bit of good weather can only mean one thing – quality time in the shed. 

And if you’re pottering around in your potting shed, why not make sure to do some seasonal maintenance? 

Have a clear-out

With a long weekend and sunshine, you’ve got the perfect opportunity to have a clear-out.

By getting everything out of your outdoor garden building, you can check on the state of your shed. Do a walkthrough and check for any holes, leaks, and gaps. And make sure to open doors and windows, even if you have vents installed.

Maintaining good airflow through your shed is key to minimising damp and condensation. And just because it’s warm outside, it doesn’t mean this isn’t still a concern. If you need to, think about caulking gaps with a silicone gun set. 

Once you’ve done that, you can think about organising your shed.

Install some storage

There aren’t many better feelings than having a shed that works. And knowing (and being able to reach) where everything in your shed is, is a treat.

So think about installing shelves, hooks, and storage boxes. Most larger tools have handles that make them easy to hang and save floor space. And utilising draws and bins with silica packets in them can prevent tools from rust and corrosion.

For a smooth interior wall that makes installing shelves and hooks a doddle, think about switching to a tongue and groove shed. These interlocking panels make for walls that you can hang things from. Whereas, with overlap sheds, this is a bit trickier.

Tool maintenance

We’re getting into the period where the demands on your garden shed are going to go through the roof. Lawnmowers, tools, and strimmers will be in and out constantly.

It’s great to get your garden shed organised so you can reach everything. But you also need to make sure everything is still working. Make sure to get rid of any bacteria or fungus that might be lingering on secateurs and pruning blades.

Dry and treat tools with linseed or lubricant and store them away in your new bins and on hooks. If you’re planning on doing any lawn edging, make sure to replace strimmer wire.

And if (like us) you simply can’t wait to get another crosscut on your lawn, make sure to check your mower blades. Be sure to safely clean and sharpen blades. And if you need a little guidance – check out this guide

Treat your shed

Make sure you treat your shed right and treat your shed.

There are a lot of positives to picking up some wood treatment products over the May Day weekend.

  • You can work in the sun
  • It’ll aerate and dry quicker
  • You can get that natural look back to your timber shed
  • You can protect against spring heat which can still warp wood

So why not get a quick treatment in now? Plus, we’ll all be spending more time in the garden before long. So make sure your wooden shed is something you want to look at. 

And if you want to split the May Day weekend between your shed and your garden, we’ve got loads more tips for you below.

multi-coloured flowers in tall grass
Credit: Unsplash

May Day in Your Garden

The great thing about May is that we should be well past any frosts by now.

Not only does this make gardening easier for you, but it makes growing easier for plants, too. And you’ll be glad to hear that the May Day Weekend is a jam-packed event for gardeners!

So before we give you our top May Day gardening tips, let’s have a look at how you can celebrate.

Woman sat cross legged with hands together in prayer on a green grass slope meditating
Credit: Unsplash

Garden Meditation Day 

This May Day, why not tend to the flowering garden that is your soul? 

Ok, we almost managed that one with a straight face. But May 3rd is still garden meditation day. As as we’ve talked about before, gardening can be great for your physical and mental health. 

Pick one or two tasks for the day and just lose yourself in them. There’s a great Buddhist saying that goes something a little like wash the dishes to wash the dishes’. 

If you’ve got some weeding to do, don’t treat it as a chore. Do the weeding to simply do the weeding. If you need to re-treat your shed, dedicate yourself to just that.

So if you’re looking to get in the right frame of mind before going back to work, why not join in? It’ll give you a last few peaceful moments in your wonderful garden, too.

Herb Day

The first Saturday of May is officially Herb Day!

Originally dreamt up by the non-profit group HerbDay Coalition, it’s the perfect time to learn how to grow your own herbs. Spend the day celebrating herbs and even herbal products.

We’re talking about a fun-filled herb-learning session followed by a dinner with fresh basil pesto. And to finish off, why not pick up some lavender soap and have a soak? Sounds good – just try to herb your enthusiasm until May 1st!

Top Tips for Gardening in May

We hope you find some time between Herb Day and Garden Meditation Day. Because May is a month packed with things to do in the garden.

Let’s start with some tips from Mr Green Thumb himself, Alan Titchmarsh:

  • May is perfect for flowering shrubs like Viburnum plicatum (‘Mariesii’). These can provide necessary shade along back borders
  • May’s also great for rhododendrons. Make sure to check if you need lime-free soil!
  • Now’s the time to pick up potted tulips if you can afford them
  • If not, try planting a tree peony

If none of that floats your boat, you can always look ahead to deadheading plants and the famous ‘Chelsea Chop’.

If you’ve noticed that some plants have gotten a bit big and unkempt (or ‘leggy’) it might be time to chop. Normally, to coincide with the Chelsea Flower Show, the chop doesn’t occur until the end of May.

Just make sure your plants are big enough as they will have only just escaped the chillier parts of the year. Check out this guide if you want more advice on whether to Chelsea chop or not!

So now it’s time to pot your cuttings, remove tulip bulbs, and start planting dahlias. And if you want to get the kids involved in May Day in your shed or garden, check out our activities below.

children playing under a multi-coloured parachute in a field

May Day Fun for the Family

Make a May bush

If you want to replicate an Irish tradition this May Day, why not make a May Day Bush?

A May Bush is normally decorated with painted eggshells, ribbons and seasonal flowers. It’s a fun way to get the arts and crafts out and get out in the garden. Plus, you’ll be getting everyone involved in a tradition that might become a regular in your garden.

Make a May Day basket

If you don’t want to let the kids at your lovely shrubs, then try making a May Day basket instead.

You can make May Day baskets from items you already have around the house. Then you could even go out on a walk and fill it with some local flowers. An old tradition was to fill these baskets and leave them as a gift on someone’s doorstep.

That’s what we call:

Bringing in the May

Get out into nature and look for flowering buds along hedgerows and in the woods. Just make sure not to Chelsea chop anything that’s still young and budding.

This tradition of ‘bringing in the May’ usually meant gathering herbs, flowers, and branches to represent the earth’s healing and fertile energies. Plus, you might find something fragrant or decorative to spice up your shed.

Who says sheds can’t be pretty too?

Lei Day

In Hawaii, May 1st is actually called Lei Day. In a similar vein, people celebrate nature around them by giving out leis (necklaces of flowers).

Why not make something out of all the things you found when bringing in the May?

Say hello to May

If you’ve already ticked off those other activities then you’ve waved a welcome hello to May.

But you can always start simple. If you want a clear complexion (with a touch of magic) for the rest of the year – make sure to wash your face on May Day. And if you want to say hello to nature or a freshly mowed lawn – go barefoot. These little superstitions can be a bit of fun.

And there’s nothing better than getting back out in the garden this May Day Weekend.

So we hope our list of May Day activities will help grown-ups and kids alike have some festive fun over the three days. Keep popping back to our little guide if you’re looking to spark a bright idea for the weekend.

And if you’re getting your first grill of the year on, check out our ultimate list of BBQ party ideas. 

May Day comes from an ancient festival celebrating spring. Nowadays, May Day is celebrated on May 1st of every year with a bank holiday. 

May Day is celebrated on May 1st (a Saturday in 2021).

May is the time to plant shrubs like Viburnum plicatum, rhododendrons, potted tulips, and even tree peonies.

This May Day weekend you could clean out, organise and treat your shed. You could also sharpen oil tools like pruners and mower blades.


In the garden, you could celebrate Garden Meditation and Herb Day. It’s also nearly time to deadhead and Chelsea chop as well as pot cuttings and remove tulip bulbs.