Landscape Texas is your information resource for beautiful landscapes and successful gardens in Texas. We are here to be your trusted garden and landscape problem solver. Whether you are an expert with a problem or a beginner looking for a place to start, we offer useful and practical gardening information from reliable sources. Have a question for a professional? Most questions are best handled by the experts.

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For a wealth of plant information at your fingertips, be sure to pick up a copy of the Best of Texas Landscape Guide. In cooperation with Texas A&M and TNLA Certified Professionals, the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association has published this third edition of the popular publicationThe guide offers a wide range of advice on landscape and gardening in Texas including sun exposure, water usage, and more.  Packed full of pictures, the guide will help you to select the plant you want for your specific needs.  Plus, this edition includes a new phone app as well as QR codes that link you to an online database with additional plants and plant information.  Just scan the code and check out the wealth of information you'll have on your smart phone!


 

Do-it-yourself front yard makeover 

You just bought a house you really love.  Every time you step in side the front door, you can't help but smile.  It really is your dream house.  Only trouble is, you don't feel the same way when you're going out the door.  That's when you have to look at the front yard.  And it's definitely not the landscape of your dreams.  What were the previous owners thinking!?  You know that simply plopping a few new plants into the ground isn't going to help much.  Your yard needs a major makeover.  But your bank account needs time to recover after that big down payment on the house.  So you can either put on a thick pair of rose-colored glasses, or roll up your sleeves and get to work.  Maybe you can't afford professional help just yet, but there are a few things you can do to get things moving in the right direction.

Collect pictures of landscape designs, and check out professionally designed landscapes in your neighborhood.  Make notes about what you like and what you don't like.  Browse the photo galleries of TNLA member sites (such as Southern Botanical and McDugaldSteele).

If your yard is seriously dated (a generic single-file row of plants along the foundation and property lines, you'll probably want to create wider planting areas, at the very least.  Consider replacing oversized or drab shrubs with new shrubs and perennials arranged two or three deep, with smaller plants placed in front of larger ones (check the mature size listed on the label).

Add seasonal blooms, but keep in mind that folirage can add interest too, so seek out plants with red, purple, or variegated leaves in a variety of textures.  Think about shapes too--a tall slender conifer placed near a full-figured viburnum creates a compelling contrast.

Set aside ample space for hardscape and trees.  Stone walkways, arbors, and benches add function and create "the bones" of your landscape, the framework that you see year-round, when flowers are in bloom and when they're not.

And finally, create a focal point.  Depending on the size of your yard, a small ornamental tree or a large potted agave might be all you need.  Or try a piece of sculpture or a bird bath to balance the size and shape of other landscape elements.  A focal point provides a pleasant place for your eyes to rest.  And it can also help to distract you from elements that aren't so easy on the eyes.  When the time is right for you and your budget, consult a certified professional to help you take your landscape to the next level.

More ideas for transforming your outdoor spaces here!

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Don't stop wateringWater Smart
 

Adopt these watering practices and you'll be watering smarter:

1. Water plants deeply, but less frequently, to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance.

2. Use drip irrigation or soaker hoses for shrubs, trees and vegetables to reduce evaporation and apply water directly to the root.  Consider installing a timer so you don't have to remember to turn the water off.

3. Use a rain barrel, storage tank or buckets to capture rainwater from your downspouts for use in watering your garden.

4. Water in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation.

5. Adjust sprinklers and drip irrigators so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.  Regularly inspect irrigation systems to make sure they're working properly.

Click here for more information about the state's Water Smart initiative!

Have a tree that was affected by the drought?

If so, check out this video on how to save your trees that may have been affected.

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Get the dirt on your dirt

Healthy soil is key to a healthy and happy landscape, whether you're growing vegetables or ornamentals.  Here are 5 easy steps to improve the health of your soil.

1. Get a soil test to find out if your soil has any major deficiencies.

2. At least once a year, turn two or three inches of compost into your planting areas, or top dress with a mixture of compost and mulch.  Top turf areas with one inch of compost.

3. Keep all planting area covered with at least two inches of mulch.  Wood chips, dry leaves, pine needles, or coarse compost are all good options.

4. In vegetable gardens, rotate crops when possible or alternate with cover crops (buckwheat and field peas, for example)

5. Use herbicides as as last resort if at all, and if you have pest problems, follow the guidlines of Integrated Pest Management.

For more information about soils and optimum growing conditions, consult a certified professional landscaper or nursery professional in your area.

Click here for more information about healthy soil!   And for even more information, click here!

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Got shade?  Lucky you.

With just a little planning, you can turn an unappealing, low-light area into a place that beckons you to come sit for a while.  Of course you can't grow sunflowers or tomatoes there, but you can grow lush ground covers with bright blooms and variegated foliage, and multi-textured ferns and lilies.  Add a comfortable bench and a winding mulch-covered path and you've got a restful retreat.  Here are a few plants you might want to include in your shady retreat.

Flax lily: This graceful and tender perennial adds a bright splash of white to a dark corner.

White or red turk's cap: A good choice for dry or moist shade.  Hummingbirds and butterflies love it.

Salvia coccinea: An easy care native that blooms (in white or red) in the shade.  Reseeds freely.

Cast Iron plant: The large dark green strappy leaves of the Cast Iron plant add a tropical touch to a dry or moist shade garden.

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Tough growing conditions call for tough plants

No one ever said that Texas was an easy place to live.  At any given time, depending on what corner of the state you're in, it's either way too hot, way too wet, way too dry, way too cold, or not nearly cold enough.  Rarely is it just right.  (OK, maybe it's just right for a few months in spring and again in fall.)  Needless to say, these weather extremes are hard on plants as well as people.  And since your plants can't get up and run indoors every time they get too hot or too cold, it's best to choose plants that are well-adapted to your area.  A certified landscape or nursery professional can help you choose perennials, shrubs and trees that will enhance your outdor living spaces and thrive despite the wily ways of Texas weather.  If you've got a problem area because of less than ideal growing conditions, you might want to give one or more of these reliable tough guys a try:

Coneflower: Pretty and pink and very versatile.  It blooms well in sun or partial sun, and can adapt to just about any soil type or moisture level.  It grows taller (up to 3 feet) and blooms bigger when it gets plenty of water, but once established, it will do its best to bloom a little even in very dry, low light conditions.  A true troooper.  And birds and butterflies love it.

Purpleheart: Careful where you drop a piece of this passionate groundcover.  It can set down roots in the blink of an eye with almost no water an very little soil, which explains why this very determined survivor can be a nuisance if it's not contained.  But if you've got it where you want it, you will love its reliability and its color.  A hard freeze will knock it back, but it will quickly return as soon as nighttime temperatures remain above freezing.  Can be trimmed for a tidy look or left wild and unruly.

Cast Iron plant: The perfect plant for deep shade.  Even small amounts of summer sun can damage this evergreen plant, leaving brown, crunchy edges on its large, dark green leaves.  But in the right spot, it's a miracle plant that will survive heavy rain, no rain, extreme heat, extreme cold, and even slow draining soil.  Just keep it out of direct sun.

Rose of Sharon: Once established, this reliable old-time garden favorite will bloom its heart out during rainy growing seasons and sit quietly during dry growing seasons.  It's not fussy about soil and it will still manage to pop out a few blooms in very low light conditions.  It is happiest in dappled sun and partial sun.  The lovely hibiscus-like florwers come in many colors and shapes.  Considered a small, ornamental tree, but now also comes in dwarf sizes.


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Rock Yards

Have a friend who swears that "xeriscaping" is the way to go? Our Backyard Blogger can help you sort out the facts from fiction in this helpful video.


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