Plant Selection for Austin Texas, What You Should Know…
It is that time of the year to be planting and planning and the first place to start is with your plant selections. It really important to start by using native and adapted plants. You can find a great list of these that provided by the city of Austin at http://www.growgreen.org. There is also a publication put out by the Agrilife extension office and the city of Austin that is a free publication with handy pictures and descriptions of the plants. Or you can just Google “Texas Native Plants” to find all sorts of pictures and info. If you are on Facebook, you can check out “Lisa’s Landscape & Design” home page for some great photo albums with trees, plants and edibles. While you are there be sure to “like” my page for daily updates.
When making your plants selections, first consider their location. Do you have full sun, full shade, filtered light?? (Full Sun means no less than 6 hours of Sun, part shade means morning Sun and shade means all day shade), Do you have arid dry or wet soil most of the time? These are important questions especially here in Texas where we have such extremes. If you have extenuating circumstances, like an area with bad drainage that stays wet, this would make a great spot for a “bog bed”. Use plants that like wet feet and be creative with the space. If you have particularly dry area’s as most of us will, maybe a high spot in the yard or a place that is really hard to water, use the most heat resistant, low water plants you can find. The information you need to find these plants is readily available and it is up to you to do a little home work before you head out to buy.
I usually start with a short list of “must haves” and a longer list of “could uses”. I create this list by considering the location, the height requirements, and maintenance issues. Once I know these factors, I make a selection for each category. For example: I want to create a layered bed, so I want to have short in the front to tall in the back and I really like bright colors. I start with a list of 3 or more plants that can be used in each layer, some will be two feet tall and evergreen, some will be 3′ tall and flowering, 4′, etc. Make a selection of evergreen and deciduous, perennials and perhaps some bulbs so your bed doesn’t go completely dormant in the winter. Having a combination of both deciduous and evergreen will give you textural diversity as well as contrasting color and seasonal interest.
Finally, be thoughtful about where you buy your plants. If you buy at the big box stores, they will guarantee the plants for a year if you keep the receipt. If you prefer to support our small businesses, and I think you should, you will get the customer service you need to make some good decisions. You may also get a guarantee at some of these locations. Don’t be afraid to take the plant out of the pot and examine the roots. If they are wrapped around the pot several times, they are root bound and may have already grafted in places (girdling) eventually killing off parts of the plant. If they are brown or rusty, put it back. The roots of all plants should be creamy colored and you should see tiny feeder roots coming off the large ones indicating that they are ready to plant.
It is worth doing some homework before you buy to save time and money later. Familiarizing yourself with what is supposed to be in this area, will help you find some new loves and you will also be benefiting your ecosystem.. Introducing plants to our area that do not belong here can create a real ecological nightmare. Do not use plants that require too much water. Do not use plants that are listed as invasive, this list is provided on the Agrilife sight and the TX forest service web sight. Be mindful that the native flowers,plants and trees encourage and assist our native Bee’s, insect and animals. Natives and adapted plants are here and successful for a reason!!
If all of this still seems like a bit more than you can take on, hire a professional like myself for a Landscape Design or Consultation. A design shouldn’t just be a free print out your landscape company gives you (it’s not free by the way ) because they want your business. A plan should be well thought out and executed so you can do the work yourself, or bid with whomever you wish. A real design takes multiple meetings to execute and my average full design (depending on size and architecture) can range from $250/1500.00. A landscape architect can charge thousands.
A landscape consultation is an educational experience in your own yard, where I teach you how to care for your space organically and help you make some plant choices for some of your hard to choose area’s. I charge $75-85.00 an hour, but you can pay upwards of $100.
Lisa La Paso
Lisa’s Landscape & Design
“Saving the Plant One Yard at a Time”
Quote of the day: ” Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend, you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left… The land is one organism” – Aldo Leopold
Plant of the day: Flame Acanthus, this deciduous Sun loving plant is covered with orange blooms all Summer long and attracts Hummingbirds and Butterflies.