My yard was a disaster last year-grass and trees browning, early leaf fall on flowering plants, and water bills sky high, even with the limited watering days. What can I do this year to prevent this sort of thing from happening over and over?
What a good time for New Year’s resolutions, aside from losing weight and cleaning out the garage. Unfortunately, many of the questions we answerhave to do with correcting something that has already been done. Short of inventing a time machine, we don’t know of much that can be done about planting and care mistakes made in the past, what we call the “Oops” factor. Once you have planted a tree in August in the summer and watched it die before Spring, or put in a water gulping lawn during drought and watering limitations, or tried to grow a plant needing full sun in shade, it is too late to save those plants, or the money, water, purchase expenses and back muscles already expended.
We have three good New Year’s resolutions for you:
First, be reasonable. You live in Central Texas-you are not going to be able to reproduce a garden magazine cover, especially if the garden is in England or Bermuda.
Second, resolve to make every effort to use plants native to your area; those are the plants bestsuited to survive. There is no fertilizer or watering schedule or magic potion to make an exotic plant from a totally different environment flourish in your yard.
Third, cut your losses. If you purchased an existing home with finicky plants or planted your own mistakes, quit trying to give them transfusions, let them go. And don’t repeat the mistake.
To help you keep these resolutions (sorry, no help on the weight or the garage) go to ourNative Plant Database, and search on the appropriate plants for your purposes. Follow each plant link to our page on that plant and learn when it should be planted, what kind of water needs it has, what soil it can tolerate, if it needs good drainage, whether it is evergreen or deciduous, and when it blooms. At the bottom of each plant page is a link to more information on that plant from Google. Learn all you can about preparation and care for each plant before you ever start hunting the shovel in the garage.
Of particular interest right now is the planting of trees and shrubs, woody plants. This is the best time of year to do so in Central Texas, when the plants are dormant and the heat is not beating down on the frail new roots. Consider visiting the Tree Talk, Winter Walk at the Wildflower Center on Saturday January 28.
More Planting Questions
Transplant shock in my Nuttall Oak tree in Moore, OK. July 23, 2009 - I had a Nutall oak tree planted; it is 5 inches in diameter and about 24 feet tall. It was planted in March of this year, leafed out ok; now since June 20th I have had a large quantity of the leaves t... view the full question and answer
Replacing mature Arizona Ash trees in Austin August 26, 2011 - Mr. Smarty Plants,
I have 2 very large, very old Arizona Ash trees in my yard. I want to remove them and replace them with something like Cedar Elm or Chinquapin Oak. The problem is that they are t... view the full question and answer
Shallow topsoil on rocky substrate in SW Oregon April 28, 2009 - I want to plants some shrubs and trees. Trouble is I can't plant very deep. I have mostly rock within 5 inches. Please help. view the full question and answer
How close can house be built to live oak from Austin May 30, 2012 - We have a healthy 21" live oak tree on our lot and are planning to build a home in Circle C subdivision in southwest austin. The home foundation will be within 15' of the large live oak. Need your h... view the full question and answer
When to seed a native grass lawn in a drought area? December 15, 2011 - I want to plant a native grass lawn. It is raining now. Can I plant it in December? It might not be raining in the spring if the drought continues. view the full question and answer