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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - January 02, 2008

From: Cedar Park, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native plants for landscaping backyard in Central Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We are starting from scratch in our backyard (approx. 200'x60')in Central Texas (Cedar Park). The yard faces West. What do you recommend for plants, trees, shrubs and grass that are native and will require less water and care. We do want to provide food for beneficial insects, birds and butterflies. We also need to accomplish some type of screening on the north side of the property. Deer and rodent resistent plants would be a plus.

ANSWER:

Let me first refer you to our list of Recommended Native Plants for Central Texas that you can browse through. The Kerrville chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) also has a list, Native Plants for Landscaping in the Texas Hill Country, with their suggestions. If you have a goodly amount of sunshine and are looking for a turf grass, Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) is an excellent choice. It requires very little water and it doesn't need to be mowed very often. You can read about creating a native grass lawn in one of our How to Articles, "Native Lawns".

There are many choices in the two lists above for trees and shrubs, but here are a few that Mr. Smarty Plants recommends.

LARGE TREES

Ulmus americana (American elm)

Ulmus crassifolia (cedar elm)

Quercus muehlenbergii (chinkapin oak)

Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak)

SMALL/MEDIUM TREES

Acer grandidentatum (bigtooth maple)

Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum)

Frangula caroliniana (Carolina buckthorn)

Rhus lanceolata (prairie sumac)

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud)

Cornus drummondii (roughleaf dogwood)

SHRUBS

For screening purposes you probably want evergreens. The following are evergreen:

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon)

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel)

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac)

Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita)

Leucophyllum frutescens (cenizo)

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle)

Finally, both Juniperus ashei (Ashe's juniper) and Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) are evergreen and can be pruned into a hedge although both grow to be medium-sized trees.


Bouteloua dactyloides

Ulmus americana

Ulmus crassifolia

Quercus muehlenbergii

Quercus macrocarpa

Acer grandidentatum

Prunus mexicana

Frangula caroliniana

Rhus lanceolata

Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Cornus drummondii

Ilex vomitoria

Sophora secundiflora

Rhus virens

Mahonia trifoliolata

Leucophyllum frutescens

Morella cerifera

Juniperus ashei

Juniperus virginiana

 

 

 

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