Getting your yard ready for spring

Southern Methodist University has one of the prettiest campuses in the nation, especially when it is ablaze with colorful flowers and shrubs in the spring. You, too, can have a beautiful yard this spring and summer by following these tips from SMU's team of landscapers and horticulturists:


  • If you don’t have an automatic irrigation system and you want one, this is the best time of the year to get one. The mess in your yard covers the quickest in the spring.
  • Raise the irrigation heads in the yard so the top of the cap is even with the soil or the thatch in your yard.
  • Run your water system to make sure you have no broken pipes or broken heads. This will help ensure you are getting water where it needs to be: on the yard and plants – not the street.
  • Change out the battery in your wireless rain/freeze shutoff. The rain/freeze shutoff needs a new battery every 8 – 12 months.

Perennial/Color Beds

  • Fertilize your roses with an organic, slow-release fertilizer and mulch with compost. Prune roses as recommended by the roses associations.
  • Begin adding mulch to your other perennial and color beds. You should incorporate an organic fertilizer and/or compost before adding the mulch.
  • Divide large perennials.
  • Cut back ornamental grassed to prevent thatch buildup.
  • Cut back Liriope to remove dead or damaged foliage. This can be done with a mower. Check irrigation head placement first to avoid mowing the heads off.
  • Begin proper soil preparation for new summer color beds.
  • You can apply a pre-emergent herbicide in your beds to reduce amount of weeds.
  • Make an effort to use organic fertilizers and pesticides instead of synthetic ones.

Turf Grasses

  • The No. 1 thing to know is what type of turf grass you have in order to know what you should do.
  • Apply a pre-emergent herbicide for summer annual weeds. Check the label to make sure you can use the chemical on your type of turf. Always read the product label before using.
  • Aerate your lawn to remediate soil compaction. Aeration is the process of removing a large number of soil cores in order for the soil to spread out, reducing compaction so the turf roots have more room to grow and better air and water movements.
  • The first application of fertilizer for warm-season grasses should be in May. Use a fertilizer with a high nitrogen content and apply according to the label. A slow-release nitrogen source is best.
  • Mower maintenance: clean air filters, replace spark plug, check oil levels, clean out mower deck and sharpen mower blades.
  • Recommended mowing heights: St. Augustine grass is 2 inches every 5 to 7 days; Bermuda grass is 1-inch every 3 to 4 days.


  • Contact a Certified Arborist for any major tree work.
  • Don’t top off crepe myrtles!
  • Mulch around trees to prevent lawn mower and weed eater damage.
  • If you want to do some work on your own, please follow industry practices for the care of trees (
  • Make sure the soil level is at the proper height for the base of the tree. Trees should not look like a telephone pole in the ground.
  • Eliminate other plantings at the base of the tree. Most of the tree’s roots are in the top 2 feet of soil, so any tilling around the trees will damage the roots.

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