Neil Sperrys Complete Guide to Texas Gardening

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It will fry like bacon. Know your style and stick to it. Now that you know the kind of sun you are dealing with or escaping from , you need to come up with a well thought-out design. Pick one style and stick to it. Certain plants look awesome together and other combos will just look weird. This is your property on display for the whole world to see, so tuck that crazy back in. When in doubt, drive to your nearest independent garden store for some advice or visit the Botanic Garden for ideas on what looks glorious here.

Consult the The Godfathers of greenery. Soon, I knew Texas-loving plants backwards and forwards and even started recognizing them and thinking about them by their scientific name. Geeky, yes. But, sometimes helpful. Each godfather has his own jam — Sperry is pretty traditional in his approach and the Dirt Doctor is for you crunchy-granola-types, but they both know what will thrive in Texas and give great recommendations on using native plants. Invest in some black gold.

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One spring, I told my fashion-forward friend that I probably spent more on soil and plants than she had on her purse. I think she just looked at me in disbelief and slight horror. Like in my homelands of Nebraska. Black gold. If the soil falls into either spectrum, you need to buy some nice compost or gardening soil to amend it with. It takes some time and a little investment, but your plants will thank you for it.

Shop local. They source their plants themselves, grow many on site and know what works well right here in Cowtown! Will it grow back?

But, it makes me stay on budget and on plan. Think of your gardens as an extension of your house: evergreens are the furniture that are there all year and provide the anchor to your room; perennials are the beautiful rugs and window treatments; and annuals are like the fun new throw pillows you get at West Elm when the season or mood changes.

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In gardening, I marvel at His creation — and His sense of humor. What kind of garden do you want? How do you arrange the plants? Once you get started, the questions can seem endless, but there are a few simple basics.

Neil Sperry's Complete Guide to Texas Gardening by Sperry, Neil (1982) Hardcover

He also suggests starting with container gardening. You can try out different flowers and vegetables to see what you like best and what is easiest to grow. You can also move the containers to see where the plants look best. However, container plants are likely to need more water. No matter whether you plant in pots or beds, the first thing you need to know is where the sun shines.

Vegetables take six to eight hours of full sun, Forehand says. And many flowers need that much as well.


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This is trickier than it sounds. All you see is that expanse of grass, so it must be full sun, right? Not necessarily. Your house or your fence can make areas that seem like full sun actually partially shaded. Sketching out where the house, fences and trees are and then looking at where their shade falls can be particularly helpful. Plan your garden close to a water source.

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Hopefully, there's a spot the sprinkler system already covers. If not, plan the plot near the faucets. If you can, run a hose around the edge of the yard and then attach soaker hoses or drip irrigation to it. That way, the hose doesn't have to be moved every time you mow. Hauling hoses around in August is not very appealing. Finally, it's time to get down to the actual planning. Are you eager for fresh lettuce and hot peppers?

Or do you want an English country garden bursting with blooms? Often the goal is both. Drive around the neighborhood and see what strikes your fancy. If you are interested in vegetable gardening, ask a friend who grows edibles for a quick tour. You can also find plans for specific gardens in garden catalogs and books. They have pictures of a completed garden, illustrations of what is planted there and a list of plants and how many you will need of each.

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Some catalogs sell a package for specific gardens. Just make sure you pick a plan that is tailored to your area and that can be adapted to the conditions in your yard.


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Professional help can be useful. If you have an idea of the specific plants you want, staffers at local nurseries can give you basic advice.

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Professional landscapers will do a complete plan for a fee. Some homeowners may need to check with their neighborhood association. Some have a list of acceptable plants and won't allow others. A garden's foundation is the soil. It needs to provide the nutrients for plants to grow their best.