Imagine having a beautiful, colorful garden, the pièce de résistance of your community. Imagine having all that and the lowest yard maintenance costs to boot. Impossible, you say? Not if you take the unconventional approach.
Growing things in the tough Texas environment takes some getting used to. If you are a newly demoralized gardener who has recently settled in DFW, rest assured you haven’t lost your green fingers; you just have to retrain them.
Gardening is a challenge here; people need assistance learning to grow things in Central Texas. Let’s start with the unique climate where temperatures can vary by 40 degrees in a day or two. When the new USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map was released in February 2012, most of Central Texas remained unchanged (zone 8b).
Studies show that water is North Texas’ most valuable natural resource. The rising cost of water spurs property owners to use garden strategies that benefit the environment. Eco-friendly landscaping solutions can mean lower maintenance costs and major returns on your investment when you sell.
- Go Green with an Eco Friendly Garden: Have a look at an eco-friendly landscaping strategy. A water wise approach doesn’t mean tall grass or a shaggy, messy property. Formal designs lend themselves to the Southwestern look or for an informal approach, try a wildflower meadow. The common theme in eco-friendly landscaping is using plants that are known to thrive in the harsh North Central Texas environment.
- Use Native and Adapted Plants: Using native or adapted plants, your water costs tend to go right down. Native grasses require less maintenance versus non-native grasses that require more. Choose plants that are adapted to the climate and soil; plants suited for your particular site conditions. Don’t try to change your conditions to suit certain plants. Now’s the time to think outside of the box with the myriad of brilliant adapted and native plants that call Texas “home.”
Take the example of a DFW gardener whose grass died in the great Texas drought of 2009. The grass was replaced with evergreen sedge that grows happily in full sun, partial shade and everything in between. Mowing happens once a year to tidy up the growth and water costs are right down.
- Use Mulch: Using mulch is an old trick gardeners use to reduce water bills and weeding. One of the best mulches for North Central Texas is shredded bark from native trees. Cover exposed ground in flower beds and around plants with a minimum of 3 inches of mulching material. This will reduce water evaporation and help keep roots cool in summer.
Mulch also acts like a thermal blanket for your plants, protecting them from temperature extremes. If the mulching material is an organic substance, it will eventually decompose, adding beneficial nutrients to the soil. And it prevents sunlight from reaching the soil, inhibiting weed seed germination.
Follow our tips, consider an eco-friendly garden and save your budget and the planet. Take advantage of nature’s opportunities here in North Texas by doing big garden projects in the fall. Planting in the fall gives new gardens the best chance to build a strong root base before summer’s hot, dry conditions hit.