The Dirt on Gardening This Season

by Julie Tereshchuk on October 26, 2016 in Lifestyle, Home, Living Texas, Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio,
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As the temperatures finally cool, and with our green thumbs itching, we turned to San Antonio’s Marcus Lloyd of Green Oasis Plantscapes for his tips on planting, prepping and primping our yards and outdoor spaces.

Texas Mountain Laurels are very popular as a native evergreen ornamental tree, valued for its handsome, dark green foliage and lush early spring blooms.
Texas Mountain Laurels are very popular as a native evergreen ornamental tree, valued for its handsome, dark green foliage and lush early spring blooms.

TLM: When is the best time to plant in Texas?
Marcus Lloyd: Ideally, during the winter months, as this gives the plant time to acclimate to its environment before the growing season gets going. October through to March is a good window.

You can plant throughout the year, but you must make sure to water the plant extremely well to begin with, whatever time of the year it is.

Most times when you purchase plants you’ll get a recommended time to plant as well as relevant information on planting conditions.

TLM: Apart from planting, what else should I be doing in my yard this time of year?
ML: Cut back existing plants hard and fertilize them through the winter months. Top up your soil with a quality grade compost and or mulch, as they will contain a lot of nutrients. Spread out the work; maybe make a point to dedicate thirty minutes a week and it won’t take long before the yard is ready for the spring season.

Your yard furniture and ground space should be cleaned during the winter months. That way it is ready for you come spring. You’ll enjoy and appreciate your garden and yard more when you can sit back and take in all those fragrant flowers, knowing the hard work is behind you.

Rock Rose, a native Texas Wildflower, can be a big hit in gardens across the state.
Rock Rose, a native Texas Wildflower, can be a big hit in gardens across the state.

TLM: What I should plant?
ML: If you are installing plants before the spring, pick out varieties that don’t require a lot of attention. Avoid species that require a lot of pruning. There is an extensive range of plants suited to South Texas that can be enjoyed with minimal effort. Plants such as Rock Rose and Mexican Petunia provide color and are easy to care for.

TLM: Any tips for a new homeowner? I love having a yard, and want it to look good, but don’t know where to start.
ML: Start by firmly deciding what you want your exterior to feel like. Regard it as another room. Will it be an area you use for socializing, or will it become a quite area to relax. Would you like to use it to grow your own fresh vegetables or herbs? All these decisions will reflect your design layout.  Of course budget is a big part of the design, and you will need an amount before you start your design.

When grown under hot sunny conditions, the Mexican Petunia assumes a metallic bluish cast that creates the perfect backdrop for the scores of vibrant blue flowers that appear with the onslaught of hot summer weather.
When grown under hot sunny conditions, the Mexican Petunia assumes a metallic bluish cast that creates the perfect backdrop for the scores of vibrant blue flowers that appear with the onslaught of hot summer weather.

The size of your space will determine what you can do. Small spaces can be just as challenging as large ones. Look at walls and ceilings as an option for space – vertical gardening is a growing trend for limited yards and terraces. Hard landscaping (patios, decks etc.) is the first process, without this in place you cannot begin the planting. Do you want a deck or patio, water feature, fire pit?

The fun begins with the planting. Your plant selection will be determined by environmental factors. Is the yard in full sun or shaded? Do you have trees? Maybe you want to focus on native plants that attract honeybees and birds.

Don’t be afraid to ask for advise.

  • Look at other people’s gardens, and ask at local plant nurseries.
  • The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center offer lists for native plants, drought resistant plants, and ‘how to’ articles to help give you a wealth of options and ideas.
  • The City of Austin has an online site to help you make educated decisions when it comes to designing your outdoor space around a green concept.
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