ABC Blog

Fabulous Foliage: How to Keep Trees and Bushes Healthy This Winter

Getting your trees and decorative plants ready for the cooler weather

Winter in the San Antonio area can bring cool temperatures that affect the trees and bushes adorning your lawn. Protect your precious plants from damage with these tips.

Keep Plants Hydrated

Dryness is the enemy of plants during the winter. As it becomes harder to take up water, leaves may brown and begin to die off even on evergreens. Continue to water your lawn regularly throughout the fall and don’t stop until the first hard freeze.

Make It Moist

To ensure that plants hold the water you give them, place a thick layer of mulch around the roots. This preserves the moisture content of the soil. Mulch also serves to insulate tree and shrub roots from cold and the drying effects of winter sun and wind. Spraying evergreens with an anti-desiccant offers an added layer of protection.

Wrap Up

Strong winter winds whip tree branches with … Read Full Post »

Beautiful Blooms That Defy Texas Winters

Four Garden Favorites That Don’t Mind the Cold

If you have a USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map handy, you’ll see that Austin enjoys a comfortable spot in Zone 8b. Our mild climate is a joy to area gardeners, and local green thumbs especially love these four favorites that always help bust the winter blues.

1. Prized Pansies – They’re not the biggest blossoms on the block, but these pretty flowers are tough enough to survive snow and sleet. Their distinctive five-leaf blooms come in a rainbow of hues, and the monkey-faced variety sports contrasting dark areas on each petal. Pansies are happiest with at least six hours of sunlight each day, so give them a bright spot to soak up the rays, and enjoy their color all winter long.

2. Winter Jasmine – While some gardeners consider these willowy vines old-fashioned, there’s nothing wrong with an heirloom bush that bursts into bloom in … Read Full Post »

4 Popular Hardscaping Features

Landscaping Improvements That Work For You

Lawns need mowing, gardens love edging, and weeds deserve whacking. Yard chores aren’t fun, but they add up to a beautiful home landscape. What if you could improve the scenery with features that don’t demand special attention? Here are four great hardscaping ideas for homeowners who like to relax on the weekend.

1. Retaining Walls Have Purpose

Whether they’re built with concrete block or native field stone, well-placed retaining walls minimize erosion from pouring rains and help control storm flooding. They shade delicate gardens from sizzling Texas summers and provide welcome wind breaks when winter storms blow through. If your lawn mower bounces over uneven terrain, consider the shorter cousins of these functional walls. Terracing tames the wildest slopes in San Antonio yards.

2. Pathways Work Around Problems

Towering shade trees thin the lawn under their branches, and family foot traffic wears ruts along favorite home trails. Win this … Read Full Post »

San Antonio Tree Selection: Choosing the Best Trees for Your Yard

Windbreaks, Shades and Canopies That Love Central Texas

Planting a new tree in the yard yields instant green thumb gratification. Even the smallest sapling stands up straight with a promise of easy care and future shade. The mild San Antonio climate is very forgiving about your choice in timber, but some trees love the area more than others.

From Understories to Canopies

Trees don’t have to grow tall to be beautiful, and some of our loveliest local choices are the understory species. Mexican buckeyes and Texas redbuds mature at 10 feet, so enjoy these smaller plantings as windbreaks that offer natural landscaping privacy. Taller maples, walnuts and Mexican plums reach ideal heights for keeping your great outdoors shady and comfortable. Count on live oaks, cedar elms and Sabal palms for magnificent, towering canopies that spread over the house, block the sizzling sun and help hold down summer cooling costs.

Fabulous Flowers and Delectable Fruits

The … Read Full Post »

The Joys of Urban Farming in Dallas

Growing your own food no matter what the season

Did you know that fall and early winter in Dallas are great times to grow some of your favorite vegetables? Even if you don’t have a lot of space, you can take advantage of the mild Texas climate to enjoy fresh produce all year.

Home Garden Options

The best place for a garden is somewhere that gets a lot of sun, contains fertile soil with good drainage, and can be watered easily as needed. You can plant in your front yard, backyard, or even in containers on your porch.

Urban gardening requires getting creative with the space you have available. This may mean utilizing window boxes and hanging baskets or building raised beds. As long as you can give your plants the light, water, and nutrients they need, you’ll be on track for a bountiful harvest.

Benefits of Gardening

Making space to garden in and around your … Read Full Post »

The Importance of Pruning Shrubs and Trees

Don’t let your property’s vegetation get out of control

There are plenty of reasons not to prune back the trees and shrubs that populate your property: You might like the privacy that they provide or enjoy lounging in their shade on warm days; you might even be a fan of the “natural look” that’s so popular these days. However, most Austin-area homeowners let their vegetation get out of control simply because they’re too busy to take care of it themselves. We can help with that. Here are a few good reasons why pruning is a good idea in the first place.

It’s Good for Their Health

It sounds counter-intuitive, but smaller, less densely vegetated plants, shrubs and trees tend to be healthier than their overgrown counterparts. Spaced-out leaves allow more sunlight to reach beyond the canopy and nourish every single leaf. The same principle applies to rainwater: If leaves are too dense, plants’ … Read Full Post »

Can I Collect Rainwater in Bryan and College Station?

The legal ins and outs of a sustainable landscaping solution

There was a time when watering your lawn meant racking up high water bills and straining the water supplies of drought-prone cities like Bryan and College Station. Thanks to some recent legal and technological changes, however, this is no longer the case. Let’s take a look at how the legalities of rainwater collection have evolved and whether it’s time for you to invest in a rainwater retaining system for your property.

Is It Legal to Collect Rainwater in Texas?

It’s generally legal to set up a rainwater catchment system in Texas, including in the communities of Bryan and College Station. This is due to a relatively simple legal framework that forms the foundation of water rights within the state. Unlike many other jurisdictions, Texas limits the state’s control of water resources to natural surface waterways like rivers, streams and creeks. Until it enters … Read Full Post »

Are You Hungry for a Tastier Landscape?

Give yourself a greener, healthier yard this year

When was the last time you changed your yard for the better? For many folks in the Bryan and College Station areas, the green space around the house is a place to gather, play with pets and relax on nice days. However, more and more central Texans are discovering the many benefits of yards and gardens that actually give something back. Learn how to turn your property into a health-promoting, money-saving produce patch.

The Benefits of a “Working Garden”

There are plenty of reasons to love a well-tended flower garden. It’s nice to look out the window and see splashes of color at nearly any time of year, and the birds and other wildlife that such arrangements attract can provide untold amounts of pleasure.

That said, there’s also room in many central Texas gardens for plants that bear fruit—literally. Some of the benefits of such a … Read Full Post »

Who Else Wants Picturesque Hardscaping?

A beautiful landscape doesn’t have to be green all over

In drought-prone areas like San Antonio, there’s a new landscape design trend brewing: hardscaping. This increasingly popular choice offers a wide range of opportunities for homeowners who want to lessen their landscape maintenance chores, lower their water bills and reduce their environmental impact without sacrificing the beauty or charm that property owners everywhere crave. Hardscaping is a cost-effective choice for virtually every homeowner in central Texas.

Benefits of Hardscaping

The benefits of hardscaping vary by region, but some of the most important include:

•    Stable, supportive surfaces for chairs and other lawn furniture
•    The ability to install permanent design elements that add value to your property
•    Options to integrate traditional landscape elements like annuals and shrubs into hardscape elements like terraces and planters
•    No need to mow or trim
•    Less water use than grass or shrubbery

Common Paving Options

There are plenty of hardscaping options at … Read Full Post »

3 Functional Landscaping Tips

Let your Austin landscape do the work

Whether you’re a dedicated gardener or weekend warrior, taking care of the home landscape means getting your hands dirty. Why not add some smart function to all that lawn care? Here are three tips that can save on cooling costs, control the water bill and keep your yard on level ground.

1. Enjoy the Shade

Trees and shrubs around the house are a beautiful part of the landscape, but they’re also great energy savers because they lower surrounding temperatures by as much as 9 degrees. Tall shades like red maples and cedar elms can save up to 30% on cooling costs. Shrubs do their part to beat the summer heat by shading exterior walls and windows. Esperanza, Texas sage and cenizo are just a few examples of shrubs that thrive around Austin homes, and each one brings a unique look to the yard.

2. Grow More With … Read Full Post »