If you’re in North Texas, the ideal time to add shrubs and trees to your landscape is from late fall through early spring. The hot, dry summers in this area can put a lot of stress on new plants, so it’s best to let them have some time to grow roots while the temperatures are still mild and the soil is cool.
If adding new plants to your landscape feels a little bit overwhelming, these suggestions can help:
Select Your Plants and Place Them According to Your Goals
Shrubs and trees can quickly outgrow their location unless you put the right thought into both selection and their placement. To get the most out of your plants:
- Decide on your goals. Do you want an evergreen that will provide color and interest to your landscape all year long? Do you want trees that will offer a little shade and shelter from the hot summer sun? Do you want flowering shrubs and trees that will blaze up your yard in the spring? Knowing those answers allows you to make informed decisions about both what kinds of plants you want and where you should locate them.
- Think about sizes. Don’t buy any trees or shrubs until you know exactly how big they can grow. The plants in the nursery are small, but you need to keep their mature sizes in mind when you make your selections and choose where to install them.
- Leave plenty of open space. It’s easy to overdo it when you’re adding new plants, but you should keep at least 10 feet of clear space around a small tree and 20-30 feet between shade trees and buildings, and keep your sidewalks and driveways unhindered.
- Keep the sun and shade in mind. Pay attention to a plant’s light tolerance before you commit. You don’t want to put a shrub that thrives in the shade in a sunny spot or put a tree that needs a lot of sun where it’s shady most of the day.
Keep the Unique Demands of the North Texas Climate in Mind
You can’t put a sugar maple down in Texas soil and expect it to thrive. You have to keep the local weather and soil conditions in mind when you plant if you don’t want to end up wasting money, water and time.
Not sure what shrubs or trees you want or which ones can handle the climate? Here’s how to do some research:
- Stroll through your neighborhood to see what you admire and what’s thriving for ideas.
- Use a resource book like the “Complete Guide to Texas Gardening,” by Neil Sperry or check out the information guides offered in the Home & Garden section of the Express-News or by the Texas Agrilife Extension.
- Check out websites like SAWS.org or PlantAnswers.com to determine what’s hardy enough for your location.
Install Your Shrubs and Trees Carefully for the Best Results
Planting your shrubs and trees isn’t hard, but you need to remember the following tips:
- Bigger is not always better: Small shrubs and trees are cheaper to buy and easier to get into the ground. They may also withstand the transition to the ground better than older, more mature specimens.
- Dig deep and wide: The hole for your plant’s roots should be about as deep as the plant’s container and two or three times wider. Once your plant is in the ground, its root ball should be about even with the surrounding soil, or just a little higher.
- Repack the hole with native soil: Don’t buy soil to pack around your new plants. They need to adjust to the native soil as quickly as possible. Using compost or potting soil can also cause water retention in the hole that can rot the new plant’s roots.
- Skip the fertilizer: Unless your soil has some nutrient deficiencies, you don’t need to add fertilizer when you plant. Keep the fertilizer back until the spring, when the plant can actually use it for growth.
- Add water and mulch: You do need to soak the root balls of your new plants. The water helps eliminate air pockets and encourages the roots to spread. Organic mulch over the soil will provide much-need protection.
Remember: The effort you invest now on your plants will provide benefits for years to come, so take your time!