Gardening for Houston, Texas Plant Considerations

by Tim on December 14, 2012

When you’re planning a landscaping project, you’re going to want to start off by making a list of which plants will thrive in the Houston area.

Houston has an interesting climate which can make it difficult for some plants…

It is quite warm throughout the year with an average high of 62 in January (the coldest month) going up to an average high of 94 in August.

While this does cause some difficulties, it is also very beneficial in that you can successfully grow a variety of plants throughout the year (if you checked out our free landscaping tips ebook, you’ll see that tip).

Unlike many Southern areas of the country, Houston does get an average amount of rain. We typically get anywhere from about 3.2 inches per month in February and as high as 5.9 in June. While this is by no means a wet area, it is often enough to sustain a wide range of different plants throughout the year.

Make a ListDue to the heat, however, any watering that needs to be done should take place in the mornings or the evenings to ensure it is absorbed into the soil before it evaporates.

Listing Your Plants

Most people will want to start out their landscaping plan by simply making a list of which plants they can choose which will survive, and even thrive in the Texas climate.

Make sure your list includes hearty plants which can survive the warm summers with extended periods of very hot weather. The following are some general ideas on how to choose the plants which you can use in your yard.

  • Ground Covering and Vines – To add large areas of ground covering or vines you’re going to want to make sure to give them plenty of water, especially for the first month after planting them.

    They need to establish a good root system in order to make sure they can live through the dryer and hotter times. Some ideas to get you started would include English Ivy, Trailing Lantana and Japanese Honeysuckle.

  • Flowers – Once you’ve got your main ground covering in place you can add in some flowers. Choosing the right flower for the right part of your yard is important.

    Choose drought-tolerant flowers that like full sun for the open areas and a hardy shade loving flower for areas without direct sun.

    Some ideas include the Achillea hybrid for its bright yellow beauty; the blanket flower comes in a wide range of colors and will thrive all year long.

  • Shrubs – Adding in a variety of different small to medium shrubs can add a lot of depth to your yard, and can even create small areas of shade for some of the flowers. You can stick with just one type of shrub throughout the yard, or diversify and choose many.

    Some recommendations to get you started include the bottlebrush (which has bright red and orange flowers during the summer), the Japanese cheesewood is quite large growing up to 12 feet tall. It also has fragrant flowers in late spring.

  • Trees – Finding the right tree for this area can be difficult, but with care they can be a lovely part of any yard. Just remember when planting them to give them regular water for the first six months while their root system develops. Some good trees to consider are the Yaupon which is an evergreen, the Wax Myrtle which is a wide tree growing up to 20 feet high, and the Jerusalem Thom which has yellow flowers in the summer.

Of course, these are just a few of the many different options to choose from when planning out a landscaping project. The thing to remember no matter what you pick is that they will have to survive the hot summers every year. Houston often experiences over 90 days with temperatures over 90 degrees so keep that in mind when buying plants.

Planning the Layout of Your Landscape

Once you’ve got a list of which plants you want, you need to plan out where they will go in your yard.

Here’s a nice video giving you some tips on how to do that:

This will depend a lot on the size and layout of your yard, but there are some general tips which can apply to anyone. Remember to always take into account the sun and shade requirements of each plant and also how much water they will need. Here are some quick tips to get you started.

  • Take Advantage of Shade – On just about every property there will be areas which are shady and others that are sunny. Take advantage of this when possible. Areas near the house, for example, often have many hours of shade which many plants will love.
  • Create Shade When Necessary – If you like certain plants that require shade, but don’t have enough space near the house or other shady areas, you can create it. Adding a large tree, for example, is one great way to increase the shady area in your yard. You can also use decorative items such as bird baths and other things to create shade for the plants you want.
  • Use Irrigation and Drainage Strategy – To reduce the amount of watering you need to do, try to use natural sloping, irrigation and drainage strategies to encourage the water from both rain and watering to flow to the right areas.

    There are many effective ways to do this including creating additional slope in the yard with retaining walls or adding underground irrigation systems with pipes (check out our mention of the French Drain in this article). How complex you want to get is entirely up to you but this should be considered before starting your project.

  • Seasonal Flowering – Many people will want to choose a variety of flowers, plants and trees which will bloom at different times of the year. If you’ve got different things flowering at different times of the year it will give your yard a constantly beautiful look. As one type of flower is starting to fade away, another will bloom for their season.
  • Edible Options – If you’ve got some extra room, or are looking to add in something different to your landscape, why not try adding a garden area. Whether you put all the edible options in one area, or spread them out, you can grow delicious vegetables which will also give your yard an interesting look and feel. There are dozens of different vegetables you can grow which also make attractive plants. Whether you go with small herb gardens or larger gardens with a variety of plants, this will add an extra dimension to your garden.

As you can see, there are an almost endless number of different options to choose from when planning a landscaping project.

For many people this is a fun and exciting thing to do which will give them the very attractive yard they are looking for. If you’re not one of these types of people who enjoys this type of thing, you might want to consider hiring a professional to help you with the process.

You’ll find a huge difference between a landscaping project done by someone with a passion for this art and someone who doesn’t, so don’t hesitate to reach out to an expert to help you get your landscaping project off the ground.

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