FALL! The most wonderful time of year…for landscaping? You bet!

Archive for the "Garden Care" Category

Most clients think that the best time of year to install a landscape is spring, but here in Dallas, the best time of year is NOW.  Fall offers a welcome break from the punishing heat of the Texas summer.  Moderate days, cool nights and more rain are a welcome sight.  This is the best time of year to install a landscape and here’s why:

Fall in Texas is like a second spring, except it’s not followed by summer – our most dangerous season for landscapes – it’s followed by winter, a mostly harmless time for plants.  In Texas, fall temperatures remain mild for a long enough period of time that our plants will bloom again, put on new growth, and make some remarkable recoveries from the stress of the summer.  We also tend to get more rainfall – which irrigation simply can’t make up for.

As the temperatures begin to slowly drop in December, our plants will slip into dormancy – but usually not complete dormancy as they do further north.  Our climate is still warm enough that our plants will produce energy, which they send to their root zones.   Even winter is a productive time for plants in Dallas, making it the second best season to plant a landscape in Texas!

You may think our winters are difficult for plants, but I disagree.  Sure, there’s the occasional, news grabbing, “Arctic Blast”, perhaps even some ice and snow.  Surprisingly, these don’t have much affect on our landscape plants.  In fact, ice is an insulator to plants – it’s a dry cold that can hurt.  Even in our coldest winters the temperatures do not stay below freezing for longer than a few days or a week, which is not long enough to freeze the ground solid, or to damage new plants.   We see almost no damage to plants (unless they’re too dry) during winter except some freeze burn on leaves, which does not affect the long term health of the plant.  That’s not something you can say about summer.  Summer is by far the most detrimental time of year for our landscapes.

Winter cold is also a welcome break from pests and disease, major stress factors that we experience in spring and summer.  Keep in mind that without enough cold, the pests and disease are not knocked back enough and we experience increased pest and disease problems later in the year, as we did this past spring and summer.

In my opinion, the more time you can put between your landscape and the next 100 degree day, the better it will do, even if that happens to be January.  Yes, January can be better than April.  I promise.  By June, installations should be carefully considered, and after July 4,  it’s very risky and close enough to September you have to consider whether or not to wait.

So, if you’re inspired by the fall weather to think about your landscape – don’t wait until spring!  Give me a call and let’s get started.

September Reminders:

1.  Put down a pre-emergent for spring weeds over your lawn this month.

2.  Plant rye or fescue grass seed this month.

Coming up in October:

1. Fall seasonal color.  I’ll give some suggestions and tips.  Number one tip: Don’t jump the gun!  Wait until October 15 and after for your pansies.

2. Pruning after the fall flush.






Last summer’s miserable conditions and Dallas’ new water ordinance have a lot of people talking about Xeriscaping. Much has been written on this subject, but I’d like to share my own thoughts on Xeriscaping on this blog post.

When people imagine Xeriscaping they either think of this:

 or this:

Photo: Kye R. Lee/Staff Photographer for the Dallas Morning News

This from a Dallas Morning News Article: http://www.dallasnews.com/lifestyles/home-and-gardening/headlines/20120530-see-how-one-richardson-couple-dropped-the-grass-sprinkler-for-award-winning-garden.ece

The first picture is the ideal: an English style garden with lots of color, varying texture and everything looks perfect.  Meanwhile, some might consider the second picture to have a more “rangy” or “weedy” look and lack color.

Both are true xeriscapes, though very different, the biggest difference is most likely maintenance.  The number one request I have from my clients is a low-maintenance garden. If a wild and untamed look (like the second picture) is what you’re going for, you can get away with performing very little maintenance in a xeriscape. However, most people expect their xeriscape to resemble the top picture, and that requires a lot of maintenance to achieve.

Beyond maintenance, gardens are affected by  conditions that are completely out of our control like heat and the changing seasons.  Even the most well maintained xeriscapes are in their blooming prime for just a few weeks in the late spring and early summer. Seasonal factors are at play in a dramatic way in a xeriscape. Many of our most beloved perennials only bloom during certain phases of a single season (early summer but not late summer, early fall but not late fall, etc.), some are not evergreen and most need dead-heading on a regular basis to achieve repeat bloom periods.   In general, xeriscapes will have portions of the garden looking great during different seasons but a flashy, lush look all year is not realistic.

What is the solution?  I think what many clients are looking for is a balance of hardy lawn and hardy landscape beds.  This balance of lawn and beds will result in a more organized, elegant landscape with far less seasonal maintenance beyond some mowing.  A really great example of this kind of landscape is the Four Seasons hotel property in Austin.   Below are a couple of pictures I took during a recent visit.

Lawn and hardy landscape beds

Hardy landscape bed with custom iron planter

There are some really great lawn grasses that are very hardy for our region.  The most common are Bermuda (for sunny lawns) and Zoysia (for both sun and partial shade lawns).  As for the landscape beds, there are lots of plants that do well in North Texas that are quite tough, give a lush and colorful look, do not look weedy or rangy, and are also not “one-season wonders”. See a few of my favorites below.

For more information on the new City of Dallas watering ordinance, please visit: http://savedallaswater.com/twice-weekly-watering-schedule/

My Favorite “Pretty” Tough Plants

African Iris

'Home Run' Rose

Dwarf Wax Myrtle

Harbour Dwarf Nandina

'Green Cloud' Texas Sage