Farmers and gardeners have known this for years, but home landscaping trends are beginning to reflect the fact that it is easier, less expensive, and more eco-friendly to create outdoor spaces that work with the environment rather than against it. For communities here in Texas, that often means working with unpredictable rainfall totals. Water-efficient landscaping allows Texas residents to work with our climate to create beautiful, unique landscapes.
Water-efficient landscaping will look different depending on your region of the country. Water-wise landscape plants are chosen based on their water requirements and their ability to tolerate other climate conditions. Certain plants that thrive in the arid conditions of Arizona may tolerate the often dry conditions of North Central Texas but would not survive our freezing winter temperatures. Water-efficient landscaping relies on installing and maintaining plants that can naturally thrive in your given climate.
In North Texas, we can have abundant rainfall in the spring, followed by periods of drought for months on end. So, successful landscape designers strive to use native and adapted plants that can tolerate the extremes of temperature and moisture that plants may face here during their lifetime.
Natural resources are precious, and they are limited. Because of this, we need to be careful about how we use basics such as water. We dedicate a lot of our water supply to landscaping, and this is neither sustainable nor necessary and can be costly and damaging to the environment. By planting water-wise landscaping, homeowners can have a beautiful yard, save on water costs, and help conserve precious natural resources.
If you decide to install water-wise landscaping, it is important to take the time to plan, plant, and maintain it correctly. Follow these steps for a beautiful, low-water landscape.
With any landscaping, but especially for areas that receive little rainfall, it is important to plan carefully. Take note of areas of sun and shade in your yard. If there is condensation from air conditioners or other appliances, take note of that too. For drought-resistant plants, over-watering can be an issue.
Keep in mind the colors, sizes, shapes, and heights you want for your plants. Determine which hardiness zone you live in and check the cold tolerance of the plants you are considering. As you are planning your landscape, be sure to allow room for growth. If you are a member of a homeowner’s association, be sure to check their list of approved plants during the planning process.
To give your water-wise landscape the best chance for success, prepare the soil well. Our North Texas clay soil becomes densely packed and hardened over time. It’s important to break up the soil to allow oxygen to reach a plant’s roots and to facilitate drainage. Turn up the soil with a pitchfork and add compost or soil conditioner plus composted shale (or something similar) to aid with drainage.
Follow the planting recommendations on the tags of the individual plants. For example, when planting shrubs, it’s a good idea to dig your planting hole two to three feet wider than the root ball to give the roots ample room. Backfill the hole with the removed soil and gently pat it around the plant being careful to keep the same soil level the plant had in the container.
Mulch your landscape to a depth of 1-2”. This helps discourage weeds and keeps the soil cool. Water your new landscape plants frequently for the first week or two until the roots are established. After this initial transition period, you can gradually reduce your watering frequency.
Keep your new landscape well mulched all year round, to insulate the roots from extremes in temperature and keep weeds at bay. Don’t expect new plants to be fully drought tolerant during the first year. Wilting is a sign that they need more water than they are getting, and don’t hesitate to provide extra water with the hose when your plants need it. They will likely need more water during the first year after planting than they will thereafter.
Residents at Harvest by Hillwood can turn to horticulturist Dr. Robert Moon for assistance with their landscape, refer to his gardening and watering tips and monthly blog articles on the Harvest HOA website, and take his quarterly educational classes. Dr. Moon recommends a natural and environmentally balanced fertilizer to improve and strengthen all yard and garden plants. This fertilizer is available to homeowners at the Harvest Hub.
Here are some of our favorite drought-resistant plants to consider for your new low-water landscape.
Of course, check your local hardiness zone before choosing any plants.
If you love working the land and caring for your own bit of earth, you’ll love it here at Harvest. Our agrihood community was created for people who value a farm-to-table lifestyle. All Harvest homeowners have access to their own private garden plot and can work in our community garden as much or as little as they like. Plus, we have an on-site professional farmer to provide assistance whenever needed.