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Sunday - November 15, 2009

From: Mansfield, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Watering, Trees
Title: Xeric landscaping walls in Mansfield TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We have two stone, concave 10 ft. high entry walls to our private street. These are each 20 ft. in length and face the west. What xeriscaping accent plants would you recommend. Also, should we create a bed, or can we make berms covered with grass. We do not have weeding maintenance or watering ability. The soil is sandy loam with a clay subsoil.


We can certainly recommend some xeric plants for your entry area. A couple of cautions: No plant, however low its water use normally is, can survive being transplanted without some additional water during its first months in the new location. If you are getting regular rain, this might not be necessary,  but north Central Texas has a history of long, hot, dry spells. You need to be prepared to do some supplemental watering, even if it involves hooking several hoses together to the nearest faucet or carrying buckets. The second caution is weeds will grow there. Because weeds are usually plants native to the area, well-adapted to the rainfall, climate and soil of the area, they will get along just fine with no maintenance. If you can take care of neither of these problems, you should consider just mulching the area in question, which is attractive and will keep some of the weeds down, but not all.

If you decide to go ahead with the project, we don't see the need for berms. Usually berms are employed to give more privacy to a yard, or more prominence to the plants on it. Certainly it would  be a good idea to make a raised bed by mixing compost into the soil. This will help the roots absorb the nutrients from the soil, make drainage better (always a consideration in clay soils), and help cut down on the necessity for extra water. After the plants are in place, we would recommend a generous application of organic mulch, good quality shredded bark being our favorite. Again, this will help reduce the weeds, protect the roots from cold and heat, and conserve moisture. As it breaks down and decomposes, this will further amend the soil texture, but it will have to be renewed every six months or so. 

The important thing about plant selection for an area like this is the amount of sunlight the plants will get. We consider full sun to be 6 or more hours of sun a day, part shade 2 to 6 hours of sun, and shade 2 hours or less. We are going to go to our Recommended Species section, click on north Central Texas, and search first for small trees, then shrubs, next, grasses and finally cactus and succulents, and list a couple of suggestions for each. We are not going to specify the Light Requirements, since we don't know what amount of sunlight you have, but will select on low soil moisture. You can follow the same procedure, putting in the amount of light and make your own selections. Follow each link to the page on that plant for more details.

Small trees for North Central Texas: 


Diospyros texana (Texas persimmon)- 12 to 36 ft., deciduous, blooms white, green March and April, low water use, sun or part shade

Ungnadia speciosa (Mexican buckeye) - 8 to 12 ft., deciduous, blooms pink March to Jun, low water use, sun or part shade


Salvia greggii (autumn sage) - 2 to 3 ft., semi-evergreen, blooms white, red, pink March to May, low  water use, sun

Lantana urticoides (West Indian shrubverbena) - 3 to 6 ft., deciduous, blooms red, orange, yellow April to October, low water use, sun


Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) - 3 to 6 ft., low water use, sun or part shade

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass) - 3 to 8 ft., medium water use, sun, part shade or shade

Cacti and succulents:

Hesperaloe parviflora (redflower false yucca) - 2 to 3 ft., evergreen, blooms red, yellow March to June, low water use, sun or part shade

Yucca rupicola (Texas yucca) - 1 to 3 ft., evergreen, blooms white, green April to June, low water use, sun or part shade

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Diospyros texana

Ungnadia speciosa

Salvia greggii

Lantana urticoides

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sorghastrum nutans

Hesperaloe parviflora

Yucca rupicola






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