Is There Such a Thing as Low-Maintenance Landscaping in Texas?

| Braustin Homes Blog

Is There Such a Thing as Low-Maintenance Landscaping in Texas?

If your Texas landscaping looks anything like my yard after that harsh winter we had, we’ve got quite the load of work ahead of us this spring. A couple of weekends ago, I had to bite the bullet so to speak, and dig up everything that didn’t survive the snowstorm.

Goodbye beautiful Spanish Dagger, farewell Aloe Vera, toodle-loo Mexican Heather Shrubs, hasta luego Heirloom Purple Hearts, and sayonara to the huge Color Guard Yucca. To my own disbelief, I managed to fill my entire organics waste bin up with dead plants.

So, what does that mean? It doesn’t mean that I have to turn in my Green Thumbs to the National Landscaping Association any time soon, it just means it’s time to start fresh!

Most folks go through a yearly “spring cleaning” phase. You know, out with the old, and in with the new!

This year, for many, that also means refreshing your landscape as well.

Landscaping is the first impression someone gets of your home when they pull into the driveway. It’s the difference between someone saying, “Are you sure someone lives here?” and “Wow, I need to get a hold of their lawn guy.”

In my case, as a single 28-year-old female homeowner, I am the “lawn guy”, and have been for 10 years now! If I can do it, so can you!

This year I want to spruce things up and make my little piece of Texas landscape one to be proud of, but also easy to manage, because let’s be honest – who has the time to worry about finicky plants? Certainly not me. I’d like to consider my residence a drama-free zone, and that includes the vegetation!

Let’s go on this journey together and talk about some of the things I have my eye on!

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Lawn Care

Potted plants and filler plants that go into flower beds or planter-boxes are probably the easiest part of a landscape overhaul. So, let’s start with the bulk of the work. The grass.

Yes, that’s right – we are starting off with the main attraction, the green giant, the grass!

First, let’s ask ourselves a few questions like,

  • What kind of grass is native the area we live?
  • What kind of grass withstands harsh seasons of weather?
  • What kind of grass works best with my lifestyle?
  • What kind of grass holds up against high traffic due to children or pets?

Some durable grasses to consider would be:

  • Bermuda Grass: This species thrives in the sun but does require a bit of consistency in maintenance by frequent mowing.
  • St. Augustine: This species does well in dryer environments because it is drought resistant but prefers dappled sunlight and higher mowing blades as it can fry easily. (Probably why it’s not doing so well in my yard, whoops.)
  • Buffalo Grass: This species prefers full sun but tends to grow very slowly.
  • Fescues: This species thrives in cooler climates and requires well maintained and moist soils until matured.
  • Ryegrass: This species withstands high traffic and would be great for yards with children or pets, however it tends to grow in clumps rather than a uniformed fashion.
  • Bentgrass: This species of grass is quite resilient; however, it requires cooler nighttime temperatures.

From this list, I’m thinking my best bet is going with a varied mix of a few of these species. Bermuda due to the high sun tolerance, a little bit of St. Augustine for drought resistance, and a dash of ryegrass in my high traffic zones.

Wait, you didn’t know that you could use more than one species of grass seed in your yard? Yes! You certainly can, in fact it’s preferred! This way, if one of the grasses performs poorly in a section of the yard, the other grasses will keep the area covered. When mixing grass seeds, it’s best to incorporate all cool-season or all warm-season grasses for best results.

Now that we’ve covered the foundation of your yard’s landscaping, let’s move onto the curb appeal!

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Flower Power

There’s nothing more beautiful than the wide variety of shapes and colors brought to a landscape by flowers.

The problem, of course, is most flowers are needy. Some like a certain amount of water, at a certain time of day with a certain amount of sunlight.

Realistically, who has time for that? Not me.

There are a few flowering plants, however, which aren’t such divas. The best place to find them?

Parking lots. Yep, you read that right! If there is a flower growing through a crack in the concrete of a parking lot, you can bet it thrives on little water and lots of neglect.

Some of my personal favorites are:

  • Hardy Plumbago: a sun loving all around landscape trooper, will put up with just about anything — except shade. It might get a little wild and try taking over your other plants, but a trim once a year will take care of that.
  • English Lavender: Tough comes in a pretty package with English lavender. This Mediterranean herb packs perfume into blossoms and silvery leaves. English lavender can form a fragrant hedge. In smaller gardens, try a compact variety, like Munstead or Thumbelina Leigh.
  • Rosemary: Both an herb and perennial flowering bush, is a useful plant to have in the landscape. It attracts bees, provides a divine smell, and is a great flavor addition to chicken or potatoes.
  • Mexican Oregano: Another herb, has almost every favorable quality one needs in their landscape — requires minimal maintenance, edible, flowering, and evergreen. This guy will not turn into a stick skeleton for six months out of the year like some plants do.
  • Marigolds: Easy to grow in sunny spots, brightening your garden with shades of yellow, red and gold as they bloom all summer long. African or American type marigolds grow 3 to 5 feet tall, but you can find shorter and more compact varieties.
  • Begonias: Perfect for hanging baskets, containers or garden beds. Give them sun or shade and they’ll reward you with lots of lush color.
  • Blanket Flower (Gaillardia): These are native wildflowers in parts of the U.S., and they grow robustly in full sun. These butterfly magnets bloom from early summer into fall.

There are truly so many flowers that can be planted, virtually forgotten about and still fair pretty well! With good soil, a sprinkle of plant food, a nice shower of water once a week, and a bit of monthly pruning – you’ll look like you have not one but two green thumbs in no time at all!

Before
After

Who’s Ready to ROCK!?

Last year, I made the decision to rip out my warped wooden porch that was neglectfully placed over an existing slab of concrete by the home renovator I purchased from. I had the idea to convert this portion of my yard from a small patio with weeded, unleveled, water catching areas surrounding it – to an extended patio, leveled off, and covered in beautiful stones and pavers.

It turned out to be the best choice I’ve made thus far as a homeowner. Not only did I proactively improve the problem area of my yard, but I also added value back into my home by making those cosmetic changes that will increase the longevity of the space.

I was also able to repurpose the wood from my previous patio, and have a contractor build a planter box from it! The photos above show a before (top) and after (bottom) of improvements made.

If you’re looking for a great solution to extend your patio space without having to fork over an arm and a leg to pay for the cost of a concrete pour, look into rock-scaping!

There are so many ways that you can incorporate rocks into your landscaping, whether it’s to cover large problematic area of your yard like I did, or to create a pathway in high traffic areas, to provide guidance for rainwater exiting your gutter downspout, or even replacing mulch in flower beds to secure hardy/drought friendly plants like various species of cactus, aloe vera that you don’t want to spread out, or shrubbery that needs that extra stability at the base. You can really do so much with rocks, here are some of the most common rocks used in rock-scaping:

  • Decomposed Granite: Ideal for DIY pavements and comes in many different colors! It’s on the cheaper side as well. It can be a really good starting point for your new rock garden.
  • Pea Gravel: Tends to be the tiny gravel you see in dog parks and playgrounds, so it’s great for high traffic pathways.
  • River Rocks: Perfect to use with water features such as ponds, fountains, or water guides under gutter downspouts.
  • Lava Rocks: Often used in place of mulch in flower beds because they provide a great barrier preventing the growth or spread of unwanted weeds. They are also helpful with water flow while raining, and a great option in dryer areas as they help retain a bit of water in the soil to keep the roots of the plants in flower beds nice and moist.
  • Flag Stones: These large, flat slabs are often used as stepping stones in makeshift pathways. They are not only appealing to the eye, but also long-lasting if properly installed.

Rocks totally rock because nothing is quite as low maintenance or drought resistant, and boy are they beautiful!

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Have You Ever Considered Window Boxes?

Ready to elevate your landscaping game? Literally? Try some window boxes!

Growing plants in window boxes puts them at eye level, which lends a different perspective than having them in your garden. From the inside, the plants will become part of your view to the outdoors. And from the outside, the plants and container become part of the architecture.

Wondering where to start? Well, let’s begin with which plants work best in window boxes!

Window Boxes facing full sun (hot, south or west-facing window):

  • Lavender
  • Marigold
  • Salvia
  • Petunia

Shaded Window Boxes (cool, north-facing window):

  • Asparagus Fern
  • Pansies
  • Mophead Hydrangea
  • Snap Dragon

I adore the fun, colorful pop of window boxes! This can really set the tone or be the cherry on top of your overall landscaping plans. I will say, these are a little higher in maintenance than just sticking some grass by a rock, but the return on effort invested is totally worth it.

Here are some window box care tips to consider:

  • Good drainage is essential, you’ll want to drill some holes for proper drainage and put a one-inch layer of rocks in the bottom of the box. Be sure to cover the bottom with mesh hardware cloth before adding the layer of rocks.
  • Any standard potting soil will work for your window box, or if you want to get fancy with it – mix your own using soil, peat, sawdust, sand, and a little bonemeal. Fill the box but not quite to the top, leave about an inch or two from the lip of the box.
  • Set in each plant firmly. Consider space for roots but remember that these boxes look better when full of lush vegetation.
  • Make sure to water and fertilize often.
  • Don’t be afraid to replace plants that have finished blooming with others.

You can keep your window box simple with some colorful, shade loving annuals, or mix it up and add some vivid green sweet potato vines and red Russian kale to account for all visual heights.

Have fun with it! Just remember, window boxes do require regular watering, so invest in these carefully.

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Fruit Trees

Fruit trees get a bad rap. Any short search on the internet will bring up all kinds of do’s and don’ts about how to care for them, when to plant them, and just the right fertilization mixture.

Ignore them. You aren’t running a fruit farm here!

I used to have a tree in my childhood backyard, and for the longest time we just thought it was a regular old tree. One year it randomly started blooming apples! I thought it was the neatest thing! I’d sit out in the yard and share a few with my beagle, Boomer. He loved them – stem and all! Probably not the best treat for a dog, but I was just a little kid and didn’t know any better at the time.

Whoops.

Maybe I’ll pick a fruit tree up this weekend and add it to my backyard. It could really use some shaded areas anyhow, and my dogs would really appreciate that!

Might be interesting to see what happens! Worst case, it dies. Best case, I’ll have fresh fruit for the next thirty years or so. Not too risky of a gamble, right?

Fruit trees are beautiful, useful, and really aren’t as much work as everybody says!

So, who’s got two green thumbs and is getting really inspired after reading this blog? I sure am, how about you!?

So that’s it: Is There Such a Thing as Low-Maintenance Landscaping in Texas? This blog has been revised to keep information and images previously shared, current. We would love to chat with you or hear about your experience on our Facebook page or through our Contact Form.

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