Gardening in Texas: 11 Tips and Facts for the Beginner

There’s something very special about gardening. You take a seed, plant it, nurture it, then watch it mature and grow. It’s Mother Nature at her finest. If you are new to Texas and considering planting your first garden you should know that the weather and soil can be a bit challenging. But, contrary to popular belief, having a green thumb is not a requirement to have a beautiful Texas garden. You just need to arm yourself with a few knowledgeable tips and facts. We did some research to help you get your garden growing in the Austin area.

TIP: Get familiar with your property

The popular saying “location, location, location,” certainly applies here. Finding the right areas in yard for planting is essential. Look for those areas where you are going to enjoy your plantings. Then, arm yourself with your smart phone and walk around the perimeter of your home and yard. Take notes and photos. Make note of those areas that need plants. But, don’t forget about existing plantings and their location. If your home is new, the builder most likely planted a few native plants and trees around the property. Check them out to ensure they are healthy and thriving. If not, remove them and replant. 

FACT: Sunshine is key

The growing season in Central Texas is much longer because the weather is milder. Which means there’s more sunshine. On average, Austin has 229 days of sunshine a year. So, use it to your advantage and plant a fall vegetable garden. But, before you do, walk through your yard and make note of both the sunny and shaded areas. Also, know when the sun is at its brightest and for how long. Knowing these key factors will help you in the selection of your plants and vegetables. Plants needing at least 6 hours of sunlight daily include edible plants, fruits, herbs, and most vegetables. For example, before you plant a rose garden outside your kitchen window make sure the area generates at least six hours of sun.

TIP: Collect ideas and determine your style

Treat your outside landscape the same as you would your indoors. Home and garden magazines and websites are full of great ideas. You probably never thought about choosing a particular style. Though, having a style isn’t a requirement it may be useful to have a clear vision of what you want your garden space to look like. And, the feel you want it to evoke. Some of the more popular styles include Coastal, Traditional, Japanese, Modern, Zen, English, Cottage, and Prairie and Meadow. Or, for a little inspiration that’s not in a magazine check out the Zilker Botanical Garden in Austin.

FACT: Central Texas summers are hot with little rainfall

The Austin area has been known to experience long periods of drought. So, plant accordingly. Your best recipe for gardening success is to choose native drought-tolerant plants. Some of the more popular varieties include Live Oak, Texas Persimmon, Dessert Willow, Texas Redbud, and the Crape Myrtle. But, there are many more. For more information on drought-tolerant plants the Central Texas Gardener website is an excellent resource. In addition, the site also publishes a wealth of information on a wide-range of gardening topics such as native plants and groundcovers, shade plants, and deer resistant plants.

TIP: Take your time and start slow

Taking your time can yield positive results. Remember, you don’t have to plant a garden in one day, the same month, or even the same year. Instead, try a gradual progression. After all, gardening is an investment. It takes both time and money. So, buy in quantities that you know you can plant, maintain, and afford.

FACT: Selecting the right plants is crucial

Select plants based on the amount of sun, water, and those that align with your growing conditions. Which means it is important to do some research and choose varieties that will grow in your area. When purchasing plants read the labels. Though, they may look pretty, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have the right conditions for them to grow and thrive. Be picky. For year-round color select plants that bloom in different seasons. 

TIP: Add year-round color by mixing it up

Combining both perennials and annuals is a great way to add interest and creativity to any garden. Perennials are plants that live for more than two years. Annuals are just that. They bloom, live for one year, and then die. To ensure your garden is colorful and thrives year-round plant a mix of both perennials and annuals.

FACT: For best results know your hardiness zone

What’s this? A hardiness zone is a geographically-defined zone in which a specific category of plant life is capable of growing, as defined by temperature hardiness. In layman’s terms it is the coldest place a plant is able to grow. Knowing the zone you live in can help you choose the right plants and help to eliminate frustration. Click here to find your zone.

TIP: Use containers

If space is limited grow plants in pots. Most of the plants that you can grow in the ground will also grow in containers. Just make sure the container is large enough for the plant to grow and thrive. For tips on choosing the right container click here.

FACT: Soil matters

Unfortunately, the Austin area is not known for its rich soil like in the Midwest. In fact, the area is home to more than one soil type. The most common are black clay soils. The soils also tend to be quite rocky. According to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, if you live in the Austin area you need to improve the soil for a successful garden. They say the two key things most often needed are compost to improve the quality of soil and more soil depth to support a strong, extensive, and resilient root system.

TIP: Learn to garden from others

Attending workshops, joining a community garden club, and volunteering at a local botanical garden are all great ways to further your gardening knowledge. Plus, you’ll meet new people with the same interest as you. Many local nurseries, park districts, and community gardens offer free or inexpensive workshops on a variety of topics. Check out their websites for upcoming free events. They’ll also supply you with a multitude of tips for a greener garden. All you have to do is ask. 

Plant roots in Travisso today

Travisso, a master-planned community, is a place to explore; a place to relax; a place to call home. Discover over-the-top amenities, fabulous home designs, and our new model homes among the backdrop of the Texas Hill Country. What’s not to love? Visit Travisso for more details on available Travisso homes and those coming soon. Additional information is available by contacting 512-243-8583.

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