Texas Crop and Weather Report — March 2019M

Texas A&M AgriLife horticulturist Patrick Dickinson offers landscape tips for spring.

Horticulturist: Plan before planting for best results

Contact: Patrick Dickinson, 972-952-9673, Patrick.Dickinson@ag.tamu.edu

DALLAS — A Texas landscape that thrives begins with a good design. That is the seasonal message this spring from Patrick Dickinson, horticulturist with Texas A&M AgriLife’s Water University outreach program in Dallas.

“Know the colors you want, the space you have to work with and the light conditions in that space before ever entering a plant nursery,” he said.

As spring landscaping activities kick into full gear, Dickinson recommends measuring the area to be planted and creating a map of it. Even a hand-drawn rendering on grid paper will go a long way toward building a successful landscape or planted bed, he said.


“Knowing where your plant will go ahead of time, for proper spacing, will guarantee a lasting design you’ll enjoy,” Dickinson said. “And it ensures the plant will have the proper room to thrive.”

Once the space is measured and drawn out, study several plants’ adult sizes, bloom colors, growing periods and requirements for light and water.

hardiness zone map

Click the map to go to the USDA website where you can find your hardiness zone, https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/

One of the most important aspects underlying a plant’s success, Dickinson said, is whether it’s planted inside its proper hardiness zone as prescribed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He stressed choosing plant varieties native or adapted to wherever they will be planted.

“The USDA hardiness zone map shows average extreme hot and cold temperatures for every region of the country,” Dickinson said. “Your plants’ packaging or soil tag should give you a range of hardiness zones where your plants will thrive.”

Right plant

Dickinson cautioned consumers about the wide availability of plants offered in nurseries that demand heavy inputs, including fertilizer and water. When choosing plants primed for zones beyond where they will be planted, Dickinson endorses using containers.

“Vibrant pots can add very nice structural aesthetics and color to a landscape,” he said. “And best of all, it allows you to control micro-environments more efficiently for demanding plants.”

Whether plants are planted in the ground or in pots, Dickinson said, adding mulch will help lock in moisture during dry months. Mulch also helps to control weeds by smothering them when they sprout in spring, when pre-emergence herbicides are no longer effective. He recommends 4 inches of mulch in landscape bedding and a thin layer for pots and planters.

“All these considerations together will guarantee your landscape’s best success regardless of what unpredictable weather brings to your area,” Dickinson said.

For a list of top plants for North Texas, check the plant database at https://wateruniversity.tamu.edu. Across Texas, try the Earth-Kind Plant Selector at http://ekps.tamu.edu/.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service district reporters compiled the following summaries for West Texas and the South Plains

South Plains

Recent rainfall helped the subsoil and topsoil moisture, but moisture quickly evaporated with the winds that followed. The South Plains remained badly in need of moisture. Pasture, rangeland and winter wheat remained in poor to fair condition. Producers continued to prep for spring planting by applying fertilizer. Cattle were in good condition.


The region reported extreme weather. Approximately 1 inch of precipitation was followed by extreme wind accompanied by scattered showers. The rain in some counties gave a much-needed boost to winter wheat production. Stocker cattle worked the forage down quickly, so many of the stockers moved to other pastures. Cotton production acres were expected to be climbing this season again, with market prices holding and irrigation continuing to be a problem. The general rainfall and high winds kept farming activity to a minimum, and producers continued to supplement cattle.

Far West

Temperatures ranged from the high 30s to the mid 80s. Precipitation was scarce with many areas receiving under 0.1 of an inch of rain. The winds in parts of the region were a big issue, with some as high as 55 mph and gusts up to 80 mph. Corn, sorghum and cotton planting had not started, partly because of the economics and partly due to cooler-than-normal soil temperatures. Most producers have completed most of their fieldwork and pre-watering has been going on for up to a month. Moisture conditions were adequate, but pecan orchards and some smaller alfalfa fields were being irrigated. Lawns and range saw a lot of new growth. Cows were still looking good and most producers were still supplementing them with cake. Other livestock were in good condition. Lambing and kidding was completed, and producers have begun to mark lambs and goats.

(Texas A&M agriLife photo by Gabe Saldana)

Source: Texas AgriLife Extension