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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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Sunday - February 12, 2012

From: Kyle, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Butterfly Gardens, Privacy Screening
Title: Landscaping plans in Kyle TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am starting from scratch in a backyard (approx. 52'x25')in Central Texas (Kyle). The backyard is on the north side of the single story house. I would like to have plants and trees that attract and are beneficial to birds and butterflies. Some type of year round color would be nice. I would also like to create some sort of privacy in the backyard on three sides mainly the west/northwest and east/northeast corners. I also have two dogs that might eat berries or pods that fall to the ground so I want to be cautious about anything that might be poisonous. What plants, trees, shrubs and grass do you recommend. It is located in a somewhat rocky/limestone area (not black farmland).

ANSWER:

This is a whole of lot of information, and you will no doubt need more in the future, so we are going to help you find the resources you need in order to make your own plans. You are doing the right thing to be planning in advance, before you ever go to the nursery (we hope). You are in the same area as the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and we trust you plan to adhere to our policy of growing, protecting and propagating plants native not only to North America but to our area. We are in a climate and water crisis and don't know if it will be a continuing problem, but the use of natives that are already accustomed to the changes in an environment will mean a saving in resources, such as water, money (buying plants that are not going to survive), time (planting those plants) and protect your environment from the damage of non-native and/or invasive plants. Because we can't sit down and have a conversation with you, we are going to give you some questions to ask yourself, and help you find the answers.

1.  What about the dogs? When you look in our Native Plant Database or on the Internet for a specific plant there will usually be warnings about the possibility of some parts of the plant being poisonous. But, aside from that, dogs are not good for gardens or lawns. They like to dig and they need space to run around. Eight paws will definitely beat down any confined space of lawn. We have addressed question on dogggy damage before and will refer you to some previous  Mr. Smarty Plants q&a's that may help you decide. Dog urine causing browning, oleanders (which are non-native and poisonous to everything), information on plants poisonous to dogs, ground cover to withstand dog traffic, mulch.

2.  What kind of plants where? Plants, even native to the area where you are gardening, have varying needs, mostly in terms of moisture and light requirements. First step in this search is to map the amount of sunlight in various parts of the property. We consider "sun" to be six hours or more of sunlight a day, "part shade" 2 to 6 hours of sun, and "shade" 2 hours or less. Watch your yard for several days, noting when it is sunny or shady and for how long. Start first with our Native Plant Database and, using the Combination Search, on the sidebar on the right side of the page, select by state (Texas), Habit (trees, herbaceous blooming plants, shrubs, etc,). and sunlight as well as water requirements. In later phases of your searching, you can even choose on height as well as bloom color and time.

3.  Another database you can look at for plants native to your area is a "Just for Texans" list for the Edwards Plateau. That list can be sorted the same way you did on the Native Plant Database but, of course, you won't have to put in the state, as the Edwards Plateau only exists in Texas.

4. Now, go to our Recommended Species page. You begin by clicking on Central Texas on the map, which will give you yet another list that you can use the sort process on. This is the mother of all lists page, so read down looking for some that will help you. We are going to link you to some of the information and articles that we think you will find useful.

When it comes right down to it, it's all up to you. We have neither the training nor the time to give you a detailed landscape plan. Only you can know what you want, and by studying our information, whether it will work.

From our How-To Articles:

Using Native Plants

A Guide to Native Plant Gardening

Butterfly Gardening

Caring for Your New Native Plants

Recommended Species Page - check out all the list links on this page, particularly under "Just for Texans" and "Just for Central Texans"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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