Plants and grasses have started to grow and bud out around the county.

This is always a great indicator that plants are ready to be pampered by their caretakers. There are some beneficial landscape maintenance chores that can be done to improve the quality of life of our plants.

First of all, turf can now be fertilized to assist in a healthy growing pattern. Nitrogen is the key nutrient that promotes leaf growth. A general recommendation of one to two pounds of nitrogen per year is used for most lawns with our clay soil.

However, a soil test is still recommended to get an idea of the nutrient levels that are stored in the soil. A soil test will give the recommended fertilization for any given part of your landscape (ex. lawn, garden and landscape plants).

In addition, information on how to take soil samples can be viewed at

In order to accomplish one to two pounds of nitrogen, it is important to get the square footage of your lawn area. Another important piece of information is to understand the numbers on a fertilizer bag.

The first number on a fertilizer bag is the percentage of Nitrogen in the total weight of the bag. The second number is the percentage of Phosphorus, and the third number is the percentage of Potassium. This is typically referred to as N-P-K.

If you need to have your soil tested, you can get the forms and information online at

Also, a good site to help calculate how much of a particular fertilizer needs to be applied can be found at

Depending on what type of spreader equipment you use, now may be a good time to make sure it is in working condition. Typically, start by clearing out the cobwebs then lubricate wheels and other moving parts. This is a good start. These are great tools to help you save some money on fertilization and deter over application of fertilizers which negatively impacts our bays and estuaries.

At some point in time we all get hesitant when it comes to trimming. Especially if the plant still seem to be dormant. There may be several types of plants that were more affected by the freeze than others. Severely, affected plants may take several more months to recover.

Most of us are either impatient or cannot stand the sight of brown. Trim dead or damaged foliage and branches from trees and shrubs around the landscape. The new growth and developing buds can assist with shaping and retraining plants to grow in the form that we choose.

This may also be a great time to replace the affected plants with more freeze and drought tolerant greenery.

Michael Potter is a horticulturist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Nueces County. Readers may contact him at 767-5217.