The Thrills and Chills of Yardwork

Got coronavirus cabin fever? Here’s your fast pass for a landscaping thrill ride you can board right from your own back door.

OK, so maybe it’s no theme park. But if you use your imagination, your landscape can be like a riveting roller coaster ride of tasks to tackle — especially if you’re in desperate need of an escape from the monotony of self-isolation.

And while (almost) everything you’ve ever wanted to know about gardening can be found at, I’ve compiled this quick-reference list of activities to get your front and back yard in tip top shape (and prepped for our WaterSaver Coupons, in case you haven’t applied yet).

Of course, continue to mind your social distancing, wear a face mask if necessary and wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds each time.


  • Prune all remaining dead and diseased stems.
  • Spray a light mixture of water and neem oil.
  • Cover the area beneath the canopy with a thin layer of mulch or mulch and compost mixture.


  • Remove all spent cool season herbs such as cilantro, chives, mint and dill, but leave a few dill sprigs for the swallowtail butterflies.
  • Later in April, begin planting warm season herbs including basil, oregano, thyme and lemon balm. Hint: herbs grow well in containers in full sun or slightly partial shade.
  • Hand water to keep herbs moist, but not wet.


  • Mow, mow and mow again. Mowing the lawn one to two times a week will kill the cool season weeds and encourage new grass growth.
  • Apply a slow release 3-1-2 ratio fertilizer in the third week of April. Even better, use an organic product or plain compost, which has additional benefits of carbon.
  • Water once a week; any more than that and you’re wasting water.

Lastly, spread high quality compost over your beds and lawn — ¼-inch will do.

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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