Springtime To-Do List

Springtime has arrived in all its colorful glory. It’s time to get outdoors and tend to your landscape. Here’s a short list of potential projects for you to tackle in your landscape.


Fortunately, not a lot has to be done just yet since our grasses do not become really active to April. Mow twice in April before considering adding any fertilizer. If you do apply fertilize, use a 3-1-2 ratio product (e.g. 12-4-8, 18-6-12) carefully. Over fertilization can cause water pollution. A more organic solution is to add a 1/2 inch of compost – called top dressing. This can wait until fall if Fiesta festivities ( for you San Antonians) are keeping you busy. The easiest and probably best thing to do is to just leave your grass clippings on the grass. Turns out studies have shown over the course of the year it porvides the exact amout of nutreients the grass needs.

Water beginning in mid-April. Do not overwater! Too much, too soon can lead to fungal disease.

Weeds can be a problem in thin, stressed grasses. Remember three things: winter weeds die with heat; young weeds are easier to deal with; and healthy tall grass prevents new weeds. And one more bonus tip: Weed and feed fertilizers are not appropriate in South Texas. The time to apply herbicide is different from the time to apply fertilizer, so you would be wasting one or the other.


Prune in March. Expert opinions vary, but you may prune down to the ground or by half or three quarters of the total height.

Water only twice a month. Anymore could lead to soil saturation, and when combined with rainfall, soil saturation leads to death!

You may add an organic fertilizer to your perennial beds but the better option of compost and a late spring (May) application of mulch is really all you need.

Trees and Shrubs

All dormant season pruning has stopped by March. Apply a layer of compost and mulch in May and water in thoroughly. If significant rainfall has not occurred, a good thorough soaking is recommended. Watering in the spring and early summer are the most important watering times for the entire year.

Occasionally, we have caterpillar problems in April and May. Do not become alarmed. Healthy trees resist such infrequent infestations, so do not immediately spray the trees. Entice birds to the trees. They significantly impact the caterpillar populations.

With proper planning and execution, this time of rejuvenation can set the right tone for a healthy landscape for the rest of the year.

Picture of Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson
Mark A. Peterson was a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System before retiring. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you're likely to find him hiking San Antonio's wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.
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