SPRING Newsletter

Diggin’ in the Dirt2021
Spring Newsletter

           Signature Gardens 
                              The signature of God is written in flowers


If you have not done your late winter pruning by now, time is of the essence.  Please see my Late Winter Pruning Newsletter for tips.   


Applying pre-emergents in September is the time to treat for SPRING weeds (refer to Fall Newsletter for details).   

If you are overrun with weeds in your lawn right now, most of them are spring annuals that will burn out as it gets warmer (chickweed, henbit, poa annua).  Mowing often, fertilizing on schedule, and watering deeply but infrequently will solve most weed problems as your turf grass gets healthier.  


ORGANIC:  If you want to use the organic version of “weed and feed,” use Corn GLUTEN Meal (CGM) in your lawn areas.  CGM is also a source of nitrogen, so if you go this route, you do not need to use additional fertilizer for your lawn (you will need organic fertilizer for your shrub/flower beds, though). CGM is applied at the rate of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet.  Using the powder form of CGM is more effective for weed control than the granular, spreadable kind. Do not put CGM in any flower beds where you want seeds to germinate.   NOTE: Excessive moisture can reduce the effectiveness of CGM, so it is best to apply it when there is no rain forecast for a few days.  Apply, water it in lightly, then do not water again for several days. 

SYNTHETIC:  This is a departure from my normal advice to practice organic gardening, but I just wanted to give you the information and let you determine what is the best course of action for your lawn care.

Synthetic pre-emergents MUST be applied during the first 10 days of March in order to be most effective against summer weeds.   A second application will be made in early June.  Follow product labels as directed for application rates.

For annual GRASSY WEEDS such as crabgrass and grass burs, apply Scotts Halts or Dimension Crabgrass Preventer.   Water only lightly after applying.

I would caution you to NOT use chemical weed-and-feed products.  Read product labels.  The herbicides in weed-and-feed products can damage shade trees.

MOWING:   Once we have had our last freeze and before your grass starts to green up, you can scalp your lawn (early to mid-March).  This will be the ONLY time you will scalp your lawn.    Scalping is done by lowering the mower to the lowest setting you can still push your mower.  (Note: Don't set your mower quite that low if you have St. Augustine - just drop it a notch or two to remove brown stubble.)  Throw the clippings in the compost pile.

In a cool, wet spring you may see fungal problems appearing in your St. Augustine lawns (Take-All Root Rot TARR.)  Spread  ½ inch layer of peat moss over the area.


Late March/early April is the time for the first fertilization of the year.  
Organic fertilizers:  Apply at the rate of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet on lawns and all flower/shrub beds.   
Synthetic fertilizers:  Follow the application rates on the bag.  

 * Water well after applying fertilizers.     

Organic brands that I can recommend:

Good Natured "Make it Green" 4-1-2 and "Texas 2-Step" 5-1-2
Texas Tee 6-2-4
Bradfield Luscious Lawn & Garden 3-1-5
Medina Growin’ Green Organic Granular Fertilizer
Gardenville Soil Food, 6-2-2 or 5-3-2
Soil Mender – Yum Yum Mix
Sustane All Natural Organic 

3 days after topdressing with 1/2 inch compost
Another way to fertilize your lawn is to spread a thin layer of compost (1/2 inch) over all lawn areas.  This is a little bit labor intensive, but you will get great results.   Use the compost in lieu of organic fertilizers; you do not need both.  I usually compost my lawn about two weeks after scalping.  Click here to see more pictures.


If you planted pansies and/or kale last fall, they should still be doing great right now. They should last through March when it starts to get warmer. 

It is too early to plant summer annuals, but start planning what you’d like to plant so you can be ready to plant after freeze threats have passed (usually after March 17).    Click here for lists and pictures of great heat-tolerant annuals for your spring/summer beds and containers.

Poppy seedlings
If you planted wildflower seeds last fall (Larkspur, poppies, bluebonnets, etc.), they have probably already germinated.   Just water them as you would the rest of your garden (once every week to two weeks, depending on rainfall).  They will start blooming the end of March, through April and May.  Late May they will start going to seed.  If you want to collect the seed, you will need to let the plants completely turn brown and dry.  You can then collect the seed and pull the old wildflowers completely out.  They will not regrow from the root; only from seed.  Scatter the seeds back in your flowerbed, or save them to plant in the fall or share with friends.

'Tete a Tete' Daffodils

BULBS:  If you planted bulbs last fall (daffodils, grape hyacinth, species tulips, byzantine glads, leucojum), you're probably enjoying their blooms right now.   After the blooms fade, you can remove spent flowers, but leave the foliage intact, allowing the leaves to die completely before removing (at least six weeks after blooms fade).  Those leaves are producing and storing energy (sugar) for next year's bloom.

HERBS/VEGETABLES: For a complete spring vegetable planting guide for North Texas, click here  

If you have any questions about problems with your tomatoes, click here


As you were pruning your shrubs last month  (especially golden euonymous and occasionally hollies) you might notice the undersides of the leaves are covered with a white "substance."  This is an insect called scale.  Treat with dormant/horticultural oil, spraying the tops and undersides of the leaves.  Euonymous shrubs are scale magnets!  I would encourage you to replace them with a better quality shrub.
Scale insect on Burford Holly

Scale on Crape Myrtles: Crape Myrtle scales are aggressive, sap-feeding insects that appear as white, waxy encrustations most likely to occur near pruning wounds or in branch crotches.  Larger female scales "bleed" a pink liquid when crushed.   

Scale on Crape Myrtle

For severe scale infestations (as pictured above), you may have to resort to treating with Imidacloprid.  One brand is "Bayer Advanced Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed."   The Bayer product is a granular systemic insecticide that is sprinkled around the root zone of the tree in late May or early June and gives 12 months of protection.  Follow label directions.

If there are only a few scale insects on the tree, try spraying with horticultural oil to smother the insects.   You might also check with local garden centers to see if they can get Twice-Stabbed Lady Beetles for you. They are the lady bug that will attack this particular scale.  (They are black with two red dots on their back.)
Good gals! 
Twice-stabbed Lady Beetle pupal cases

Adult Twice-Stabbed Lady Beetle

Powdery Mildew:   As summer phlox begins to grow, if you are noticing white blotches or patches or a grayish cast over leaves that should be green, it is most likely powdery mildew. Summer Phlox can be susceptible to powdery mildew, especially in a rainy cold spring.   Spray with Neem Oil in the evening (do not spray in the heat of the day!).  If leaves become too damaged, consider cutting the plant to the ground.  It will regrow clean and bloom later than usual.
Powdery Mildew on Summer Phlox


Nurseries will soon be fully stocked.  Spring is a great time to get trees, shrubs, and perennials in the ground to get them established before the heat of summer.  Fall is the absolute best time to plant, but early spring is the next best.  

 * Click HERE to learn about all of the plants that thrived in my garden during the record-breaking Summer of 2011.   

 * Click HERE to see my plant list and video presentation for adding year-round color to your garden.

Before you plant or transplant anything (except trees – see link below), be sure to add lots of compost to the planting area.   If you have heavy clay soil, add expanded shale, as well.  Make sure the soil/root ball is very moist when planting (soak with liquid seaweed root stimulator prior to planting), and keep soil moist until plant is established.

Now is a good time to divide overgrown perennials and transplant them to another spot.  If you’ve got too much of a good thing, plant the extras in a pot, give them to a friend, or donate them to the Grapevine Garden Club and we will sell them at our annual Plant Sale on Saturday, April 18 .   If you need new plants, this is a great way to get heirloom plants at very inexpensive prices!!  Mark your calendars!

Now is also a good time to transplant shrubs, if needed.  January is the best time to transplant trees while they are dormant, so if you need to do that, transplant very soon, or mark your calendar to do it next winter.

Click here for my tips on planting trees.


In the winter and early spring, supplemental sprinkler watering is only needed once every two-weeks, if we have not gotten any rain.     If the forecast calls for a hard freeze, be sure your soil is moist down to 6 inches (run sprinklers if we haven’t gotten a rain recently).  

Once we get into the growing season, follow your City’s water restriction schedule.  Watering is usually limited to twice a week between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m.   It is best to water deeply and infrequently to encourage deeper root development.   Twice-a-week watering should be sufficient for most landscapes (and even less for true xeriscaped gardens).  Watering more frequently develops shallow root systems and just sets your landscape up for failure when water restrictions are enforced.

The best tip I can offer is to use the "cycle and soak" method.  Run all zones of your sprinkler system, wait 15 to 30 minutes, and then repeat the cycle again.  This will allow the first cycle to soak into the soil before you run the system again.   This requires either a Program A and B or multiple start times on your controller (or manually restarting the system). 

As to how many minutes you need to run each zone, there is not a "one size fits all" answer.   Factors like sun/shade, rotors/spray heads/drip irrigation will all need to be considered to determine run time for each zone.    

If at all possible, do not water at night.  Dark and wet = fungus!  It is best to water early morning.   Water container plantings as needed.


Mulch all bare soil to conserve moisture and keep the weeds to a minimum.  I prefer native cedar or hardwood mulch, but anything is better than nothing.  Please don’t skip this step; it is very important.   Be careful that you do not pile mulch up on the trunks of trees or shrubs.  


For a quick way to heat up your compost pile, add some cottonseed meal.  You can purchase it inexpensively at feed stores or most garden centers.

Mark your calendar....

Plant Sales:     Grapevine Garden Club
                       Saturday, April 18  (8 a.m. to 1 p.m.)

Garden Tours:    Dallas County Master Gardener Association 
                          Spring Garden Tour
                          Saturday May 2 (10 a.m. - 4 p.m.) and 
                          Sunday May 3 (1 p.m. - 5 p.m.)
                          Colleyville Promenade Garden Tour
                          Sunday May 3 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

                           Denton County Master Gardener Association Garden Tour
                           Saturday May 9 (9 a.m. - 4 p.m.)


QUESTIONS?    Please e-mail me at signaturegardens@verizon.net or post questions on my Signature Gardens Facebook page

And remember…a day without dirt under your nails is like a day without sunshine 

Happy Gardening…   

Toni :-)