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Janet Laminack: Not quite the time for some spring yard work

As we become eager for spring weather to arrive, people turn to yard work. I have some good news for those of you with extensive honey-do lists: some of those tasks shouldn’t be done yet.

Lawn fertilization, for example, shouldn’t happen until the grass is actively growing. That means you need to have mowed actual growing turf two or three times before putting down fertilizer. I know many of you, like me, have actively growing and green “lawn areas” that require mowing now, but that’s not your grass. We certainly don’t want to put down fertilizer now and give those weeds a boost.

Weed control then comes to mind. Should a weed and feed be put down now to get rid of those weeds? Again, the “feed” portion will only fertilize your weeds, and the “weed” portion could damage trees and ornamentals. AgriLife Extension recommends targeted weed control in a separate product. Unfortunately, many of the weeds we are seeing right now, such as henbit or annual rye, are cool season annuals that should have been targeted last fall with a premergent herbicide. However, as the weather heats up, these weeds will die off.

Post-emergent herbicides control weeds that have already sprouted and are recommended to use when the grass is healthy and actively growing and weeds are very small. Especially after our cold winter, I would be cautious about using fertilizer or herbicides too soon. Some of our turfgrass may be stressed, damaged or dead and applying these products will not help the situation.

What else shouldn’t be done yet? I’d also delay pruning back of landscape plants unless you know for sure that part is a goner. Some of our shrubs, trees and perennials may have been damaged during the dry, cold spells we received, but it’s hard to tell yet and I’d take a wait-and-see approach before breaking out the loppers, hedge trimmers and chain saws.

So now that I’ve put your to-do list on hold, what should you do? There are plenty of great spring activities coming up such as the Denton County Farmers Market and the Denton Community Market opening day on Saturday. This is a great place to pick up locally grown fresh produce from the farmers themselves. On April 12th, you won’t want to miss Denton’s Redbud Festival with educational booths and vendors including the Denton County Master Gardeners. And it’s not too early to mark your calendar for the Master Gardener’s Annual Plant Sale on April 26 and Garden Tour on May 10.

And as always, if you need more information or have specific gardening or lawn care questions please contact us, at 940-349-2892, or e-mail

JANET LAMINACK is the horticulture county extension agent with Texas AgriLife Extension. She can be reached at 940-349-2883 or