Most North Texas landscapes could stand a little touch-up/tune-up after several months of off-season conditions. With the growing season just moments, days or weeks away, here are some quick and easy ways to make things look a lot better.Scalp your lawn by dropping the mower down one notch. You'll eliminate many of the early-spring weeds, and you'll remove the brown stubble so that greening grass can show up more quickly. Two cautions: First, this is a dusty job. Wear goggles and a quality respirator, or you'll need to plan an immediate visit to the allergist. Also, remember that scalping is primarily an aesthetic task. But, since making things look better is the reason we called this meeting today, it does fit into our topic.Mulch all your beds. I prefer finely ground pine bark mulch, but you may have others that you like better. The big issue is that mulches provide a continuity to our landscaping, a "carpet" for those "rooms" in our gardens. Mulches repress weed growth in the spring, and they help soils retain moisture during the dry times. They reduce splashing, and they cut down on erosion. There just isn't a downside. (No, they do not attract termites.) This is a great time to stock up on mulches and get them spread out in your landscape.Reshape overgrown plants. Do so, whenever you can, by sculpting them carefully with lopping shears and hand pruners, not hedge trimmers and power equipment. You can trim most shrubs back by 20 to 30 percent without any bad long-term effects. However, if you do that repeatedly, or if you remove greater amounts, your plants may not recover. It may be that you just have the wrong plant in that place, and you might be better served by removing it and replacing it with something that stays more compact.If you have groundcover beds that have become somewhat uneven, this is probably the time to give them a trim, too. Asian jasmine beds can be mowed. Regular mondograss and liriope have very leathery leaves that are difficult to trim with most tools. Gasoline-powered hedge trimmers work best, but be very careful not to cut into any new growth that may be emerging. If you cut this year's new blades, you'll be looking at the stubbly ends for the next 11 months. Actually, that same advice applies to trimming large pampasgrass clumps that have browned due to cold.Plan for consults. If you're aiming to do landscaping that's much more extensive than just a bit of trimming, get your plans started now. Nurserymen get busy by mid-March, and wise gardeners schedule their consultations early and have their plans drawn up now. Most nurseries have designers on staff. Their plans will be worth the cost, because they'll help you avoid major missteps.Start transplanting now. If your ambitions call for the relocating of established trees or shrubs, you must finish that work before they start budding out for the spring -- that means now. Carefully dig the plant with a sharpshooter spade, holding its root ball intact. Reset it immediately into its new home. Plant it at exactly the same depth at which it was growing before. Pack the fill soil around its root ball, and soak it thoroughly to get air out of the root zone. Remove 30 to 40 percent of the plant's top growth to compensate for roots lost in the process of digging.Add spots of color to your late-winter landscape. Many of our showiest spring annual plants can actually withstand frosts and light freezes. What many of them will not be able to handle will be the heat of late spring into early summer. That's why late February is the best time to plant ornamental Swiss chard, sweet alyssum, larkspurs, poppies, English daisies, stocks, snapdragons, petunias and even colorful leaf lettuces. These plants can be grown in beds, or they can also be planted into large patio pots and other decorative containers.This is also the time to tune up your irrigation system. Lots of odd things happen over a winter, and it's rare for a system to be fully operational come springtime. Run the controller through all of its stations manually, checking for broken, clogged or misaligned heads, sticking valves and broken pipes (major leaks when the station is pressurized).Soil testing. Finally, keeping your lawn and landscape looking good during the growing season depends on maintaining good fertility in the soil. The only way to know precisely what your plants will need is to have a dependable soil test every couple of years. The Texas A&M Soil Testing Laboratory does that. Instructions and application forms are online. Have one test on your flowerbed and vegetable garden soils, and a second on turf and shrub beds.Neil Sperry publishes "Gardens" magazine and hosts "Texas Gardening" from 8 to 11 a.m. Sundays on WBAP AM/FM. Reach him during those hours at 800-288-9227 or 214-787-1820.