What you can get busy with this weekend!

posted by Randy Lemmon -

I said this last week, and I’ll say it again:  Cool your jets with work in the landscape!

If you’re chompin’ at the bit to start pruning away brown and crispy things left by the twin January freezes, please hold off unless you plan to fully protect those plants from future cold. 

I will, however, give you permission to do a few things in early February as we wait to see what frosty weather may still be in store.   And don’t worry … there’ll be plenty more to do in about three weeks.

So here’s a seven-in-one tipsheet with projects you can definitely take on right now.

  • Kill them weeds:  Lots of broadleaf weeds can be controlled with the cool-season herbicides.
  • Apply pre-emergent herbicide for February, per my fertilization schedule.
  • Prune the trees:  Yes, that includes crape myrtles … just don’t commit crape murder.
  • Build your veggie beds.
  • Mulch everything.
  • Treat for scale insects on evergreen shrubs and trees.
  • Understand the negative consequences of weed-and-feeds.

Kill them weeds:  While we have, in years past, talked about doing my fertilization schedule’s  early green-up, this year we have to wait to see what Mother Nature has in store. (Another freeze is predicted before Valentine’s Day.)  But that shouldn’t stop you from killing the broadleaf weeds that don’t seem to mind the cold weather.  You should keep using post-emergent cool-season herbicides, because the weather will allow it.  It needs to warm up before regular broadleaf weed killers can be used.  For more details, check these tipsheets from the GardenLine archives:

Apply pre-emergent herbicides:  If you’re familiar with my fertilization schedule , you know we stay true to pre-emergent herbicides no matter the weather to block weed seeds from germinating.  Temperatures don’t have a negative effect on granular herbicides like they do on fertilizers.  Also from the archives, are my Top 10 Rules of Herbicides

Prune the trees:  Pruning just about any tree … from live oaks to deciduous trees with no leaves … can and should be done right now.  And, while it is fair game to prune the crape myrtles, please don’t take part in the Annual Crape Myrtle Massacre.  February is a great month to prune them, but keep it to a minimum.  Remember that these are trees, and we don’t prune any other trees down to nubs each year, do we? And, you guessed it, here’s some archival information on how to approach crape myrtle pruning.

Build your veggie beds:  While we have been known to “cheat” Mother Nature and get vegetable gardens started with some early-February plantings, that only applies if February features warmer-than-normal temperatures.  That ain’t happenin’ this year.  But you can still build the beds so they’ll have time to rest and mellow a bit before we get busy with plantings later in February or March.  Yep …  I’ve got something from the past about building perfect beds.  

Mulch everything:  Since we really can’t prune back much in the landscape because of an impending freeze, and since we need to hold off on planting for another couple of weeks, you can and should re-mulch all your beds.  It’ll give you some clean and neat curb appeal while providing some needed cold weather protection, moisture retention and weed blocking.  Are here are GardenLine’s 10 Commandments of Mulch

Treat for scale:  Yes, we just covered this in detail a few weeks ago, but since we are in “the dormant stage” for all evergreen plants, here’s your re-invitation to get this task taken care of soon: Scale control in winter.

I don’t recommend weed-and-feeds.  If you’re a long-time listener or reader of these tips, you already know my take on this perpetual problem.  But lots of people from all over the U.S. move to the Houston area every day, and weed-and-feeds may be all they know.  So, for newcomers, I discourage them because Weed-and-Feeds Kill Trees  and Weed-and-Feeds Kill Nature.