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February Landscapes – Don't let Mother Nature tempt you! Winter is not over

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Don't let Mother Nature tempt you! Winter isn't over!

Warmer than normal temperatures cause some to want to get their spring on early


Another mild, sometimes spring-like winter comes and goes in Texas. Right?

Not so fast.

The weather we’ve seen in January has left us wanting to go outside and get our hands into something. Anything. Its been unseasonably warm and with above average rainfall for January. You’ve been cooped up this winter and can’t wait to get outside.

Let me caution you that its way too early to begin spring plantings, way too early to fertilize a lawn, way too early for just about anything we’d normally do in spring. Even though it feels much like spring right now.

In fact, the National Weather Service will be issuing a Winter Storm Warning for much of Texas this week. That is Texas weather in a nutshell. Crazy.

What would happen if you applied fertilizer to your lawn at this time of year? It would likely stunt the growth of your turf for the first few months of spring. While it would be green, you’d likely see shorter blades and strange/deformed growth. And thats really a headache you want to avoid.

Grass, like flowers, requires sunlight to really gets its growth going. During winter, we don’t get much and what we do get is at such an angle that its benefits are limited.

What would happen if you planted spring flowers during February or March? They’d likely die during the first cold wave that sends temperatures below freezing. Unfortunately, I’ve seen it many times. A homeowner, anxious to get the curb appeal going, runs out and spends $500 on spring flowers and a day or so later he sees a freeze. Ugh.

Yesterday, I saw a homeowner removing the burlap wraps from his Palm trees. Now, with the expected winter weather, he’s probably racing out to put those wraps back on.

Be patient. Stay on the usual schedule. Old Man Winter always has his say in Texas. It only takes one of his visits to wreck an early bird in the garden.

So what should we be doing this month?

Hopefully, you have your lawn and bed pre-emergent down by now. If not, do it now.

This is a good month to put down new mulch if you didn’t do that in Fall. If you have Live Oaks near your beds, then hold off until the March molt is finished (leaf drop) otherwise you may be blowing a lot of that mulch out when you go to remove the Live Oak leaves.



Correct pruning, as illustrated above.

– One item I’d like to discuss in more detail, however, is the trimming of Crape Myrtles that regularly occurs this month. February is the month most folks get their Crapes trimmed because new growth will start emerging in March. 

I do not endorse the hacking method of trimming Crape Myrtles. This is the sight you often see each year where the trunks are cut abruptly before the first branches. The end result looks like sticks sticking up from the ground. This is an awful look and an awful habit.

Crapes can be “knubbed” approximately three inches above the knuckles. Otherwise, Crapes should be trimmed the same way we trim other trees.


Incorrect pruning, above.

Crape Myrtles are one of those species that feature an irregular growth habit. To maintain their beauty and shape, the irregular growth has to be removed. Irregular growth would be limbs that grow across the inside canopy to the opposite side, or are laying on top of another branch, etc.

– Around the last 10 days of February, you will want to feed your beds. I prefer a granular time release product that ranges in the 10-5-4 nutrient ratio. Using a time release product will ensure that you’ll get those nutrients to your landscape plants around the same time they begin coming out of winter dormancy. Just toss the product by hand, making sure not to let it sit next to the trunks.

– If you’re hoping to install a new landscape or redo your current one, this is a good time to initiate contact with your preferred landscape contractor. Get the consultation done. Get the estimate and design drawings done. Get the decisions made. That way your installation will be a timely spring installation. In many types of projects, permits may be required for the job. So that process can take some time as well.

– If you have a small vegetable garden, now is the time to get your onions planted. Don’t wait any longer. Plant potatoes around Valentine’s Day. Don’t forget to plant the potatoes with Potash mixed into your soil!

– Now is a great time to plant a new tree. No matter the size, it is beneficial to get them planted now so they’ll have the spring to get acclimated before the brunt of the summer sun begins taking effect. The larger the window of time between now and July 1, the better.

If you have any questions, fire away!

(Mark’s column each month is sponsored by Stagecoach Trailers, Inc., of Naples, Texas. Find them at www.stagecoachtrailers.com)


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