Gardening in Central Texas is no simple feat. The famous saying, “If you don’t like the weather in Texas, just wait five minutes.”, is truly no exaggeration. Your best bet, particularly if you’re planting or getting your garden freshened up for spring is to stick with native and drought resistant plants. If you are looking for edible plants, something that is partial to heat and sun is the safest bet. We are fortunate to have businesses like The Natural Gardener and resources from the City of Austin and Central Texas Gardener to help us discover sustainable ways to build our gardens year after year.
Fertilizing Your Central Texas Garden
First and foremost, spring is time to fertilize your soil. This should be done twice a year, the other in fall. There are many options for fertilization, The Natural Gardener suggests going organic and cites the Stillhouse Study, as well as the fact that synthetic fertilizer is a known water polluter via run-off. Central Texas Gardener suggests homemade fertilizers, like compost tea.
Find a comprehensive list of seeds and plants, including fruits and veggies that should be planted in March and April from The Natural Gardener here.
Pro Tip: Spray existing plants with seaweed to increase their heartiness in winter and keep them from succumbing to the effects of a scorching hot summer.
Prepping Garden Space in Central Texas
Clean up is imperative. If you want to protect your new plants from critters, make sure to clean up dead branches, leaves and other accumulation before planting. Compost is a must to refresh the top layer of soil and ensure that your plants are getting beneficial nutrients that are not immediately available to them otherwise. Look for detrimental (aphids) and beneficial (lady bugs) insects on new growth and young plants and treat appropriately.
Choosing the Right Plants for Your Central Texas Garden
Choosing plants can seem daunting. Wherever you go to select your plants, make it clear that you want native and drought resistant plants. At a minimum, it will help to narrow your field. This handy guide from the City of Austin would be a great take-along so you can double check. It also includes invasive plants so you can steer clear!
Having an idea of how many leafy, grass-like and flowering plants will help tremendously in determining what to focus on when purchasing. Measuring and taking photos of the space you will be using is a time-saver for sure. Of course, there’s an app for that. Supply photos of landscaping you like from other homes or businesses to keep from having too much guessing going on. Take your choice of garden stores and you will find many with a knowledgeable staff that can assist you in tracking down what you’ve captured in those photos.
Create a Central Texas Native Garden with Hearty and Drought Resistant Plants
Any landscaping professional will tell you that a good garden has balance with height differentials and the appropriate distance between plants to allow the best aesthetic. Start with a leafy, hearty plant like Texas Sotol, Yucca (pair with Red Yucca as a pop of color), include cactus if it fits your vision or exterior décor. Include in your next layer ornamental grass like Mexican Feathergrass for a little more dimension and possibly intersperse with a Sedge variation to keep your garden from looking too much like a breezy field. Purple Heart is another excellent and extremely heat tolerant plant that can add color and a new dimension to your native garden.
Additional Central Texas Garden Options:
Central Texas Annuals:
You might start small and see how your plants fare. Try marigolds, zinnias and cockscomb for a colorful mix. Once you know how they will do in the soil and space, you can add more flowering plants if you see fit.
Central Texas Veggie Garden Suggestions:
In March, think black-eyed peas, collard greens, cucumber and summer squash from seed. Look at planting the same, as well as tomatillos, peppers, tomatoes and pumpkin.
Central Texas Herb Garden Suggestions:
You have your pick of herbs for the spring months with chives, basil, oregano, lavender, mint, sage, rosemary and more.
When planning your garden, take note of watering schedules, sunlight needs and soil requirements and keep up with them throughout the changing seasons. With the mild winter we had recently and wonderful weather we have been experiencing since February, if you stay on top of care and upkeep of your Central Texas garden, you can rest assured it will last at least through this year, and likely beyond. Before you know it, your neighbors will be taking photos of your garden for their own inspiration.