A well-landscaped yard can bring balance, peace and harmony to your space, creating an oasis right at home. Wanting an aesthetically-pleasing lawn is one thing; making it happen is something else entirely. With our hot, humid weather, inconsistent rainfall and occasional flooding here in Houston, it can feel like a challenge to decide which flowers or plants will work best and how to get started on your landscaping project.
Before you begin, you’ll need to learn more about your soil type and think about what plants would survive our climate. On average, Houston gets 18 days each year with temperatures below 32° and 99 days above 90°. Our growing season lasts an average of 300 days, which can be great for growing a wide variety of plants and flowers. However, you have to make sure the plants you choose are heat tolerant.
Local soil is typically either clay or sandy. You’ll want to build up your beds with 3 to 6 inches of quality, organic material to ensure your plants receive the nutrients they need to thrive. For best results, work this compost into the top foot of soil in your beds.
If you’re more prone to a black thumb and can’t seem to make anything grow here, but are determined to learn the ins and outs of successful gardening, we suggest you check out the Harris County Master Gardeners. As a part of Texas A&M’s AgriLife extension, approximately 250 master gardeners volunteer their time to teach a variety of free classes and lectures.
If you are somewhere in between and are just looking to add some life to your Houston garden, keep reading for landscaping ideas for your front yard, a list of the best perennials for Houston, suggestions for backyard landscaping, flower bed ideas to add color to your lawn and landscaping ideas for small yards.
Texas Landscaping Ideas For Front Yards
Depending on where you live in Houston, you may have to contend with sandy or clay soil, slightly higher temperatures or an increased likelihood of frost. You’ll need to keep your microclimate in mind when you choose your plants.
Your landscaping options are almost limitless, depending on the architecture of your home, your personal tastes and the environment of your yard (including how much sun and shade you have and your drainage), as well as your landscaping goals. We’ve included a couple of our favorite plants below to give you an idea of where to start. Landscape lighting can also highlight your landscaping and illuminate parts of your house at night.
A good mixture of short and tall shrubs can add depth to your front yard. Adding color and height will keep things interesting.
Henry Duelberg Mealycup Sage (Salvia farinacea)
This Texas annual is easy to grow and doesn’t attract deer, which makes it good for front yards where deer like to go for a snack. However, this type of sage does attract hummingbirds and butterflies and is exceedingly drought-tolerant. This shrub grows between two and three feet tall and has flower spikes that are one foot long and covered in dark, purplish-blue flowers. The plant is drought-tolerant, which makes it another favorite for Houston.
Cutting back the spikes after the flowers are spent encourages the plant to rebloom. The Mealycup Sage plant can be in bloom virtually all season. A perfect choice for water-wise gardeners, this plant can be found at most nurseries. The only thing this plant doesn’t like is moist soil.
Lacey Oak (Quercus laceyi, syn. Quercus glaucoides)
This smaller oak tree, which reaches just 25-35 feet tall and wide, is great for creating shade in the front yard. So if you tend to like flowers that prefer shade, you might consider adding this tree to your landscape. Keep in mind that the Lacey oak grows very slowly, but is highly tolerant of heat, drought and high pH soils, once established. As with most trees, you do need to water more after you first plant a Lacey oak to help the tree become established.
Best Perennials Houston Gardeners Use In Landscaping
Unlike annuals, perennials live for more than two years. Houston gardeners gravitate towards a few species because they do well all year long. An extensive root system allows perennials to tolerate drought and protect against erosion.
Texas Gold Columbine (Aquilegia hinckleyana)
This pretty perennial has buttercup-yellow flowers with long, attractive spurs and fernlike foliage that grows two to three feet tall. Although columbines can be short-lived, they will reseed if you let the seedlings grow. Though columbines will tolerate some heat, this plant prefers well-drained soil, part shade and adequate moisture.
Lord Baltimore Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos)
This plant gives a lot of bang for your buck with large, bright scarlet flowers which bloom from July until the first frost. At maturity, this hibiscus will be around five feet tall and wide, so you want to leave plenty of space around it. Like other types of hibiscus, the Lord Baltimore dies back to the ground in winter, but regrows quickly in the spring. Once established, this tropical-looking perennial provides years of color. The Lord Baltimore hibiscus prefers moist soil and is great for butterfly and hummingbird gardens and decorative pots.
Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus)
This fast-growing shrub is another drought-tolerant plant that reaches between three and six feet in height and width with flowers very similar to the hibiscus that don’t fully open. The plant’s flowers are red, pink and white. Turk’s caps love the shade and attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Cape Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata)
The Cape plumbago produces beautiful tiny sky blue flowers in a cluster from May until the first frost. In addition to drawing the attention of your neighbors and visitors, the plumbago attracts butterflies. Thankfully, deer don’t find this species quite as appealing, so plumbagos work well for both front and back yards. Cape plumbago works as both a groundcover or trained to climb a trellis or wall. Plumbagoes do best in full sun and sandy soils with good drainage.
We love these hardy and beautiful flowers for our city. Daylilies bloom in various shades of color, including yellow, orange, pink, peach, red and white. Some are evergreen or will rebloom in fall. A very versatile flower, daylilies have slightly different bloom times categorized as early, mid and late and are different heights, which means that by choosing the right mix of varieties, you can achieve several months of color from spring to summer. These plants do well in the sun and partial shade.
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
This pretty flower looks like its sunflower cousin but with lazy, purple petals that never really stand up. The purple coneflower primarily blooms is in the spring and occasionally through fall. These plants are also deer resistant and attract butterflies. This wildflower grows well in clay and needs sun and good drainage.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
This multipurpose plant grows quickly in a garden and can take up a lot of space if you need filler. As a bonus, you never have to run to the store for it for a recipe again. This plant is great for hot spots in your sunny landscape, such as easements and driveways, and doesn’t require a lot of water. Rosemary comes in several varieties. The upright types of rosemary grow to approximately five feet tall and wide.
Hummingbird Bush (Flame acanthus)
This shrub produces almost year-round gorgeous red blooms which attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. The hummingbird bush needs sun and room to spread, because it grows up to three to four feet. Plants will love a sunny location with lots of room to spread. The hummingbird bush is also great for container gardens.
Australian Violet (Viola hederacea)
If you need low-maintenance or groundcover for a shady spot fast, the Australian violet is for you. This plant can be trained to flow over a wall or up a trellis. Its blooms appear almost year-round in shades of violet and white.
Suggestions For Backyard Landscaping Houston Homeowners Love
Depending on whether you have a backyard in full sun or shade, you can find a variety of plants and flowers for your needs. Do you want to create a backyard oasis? There are so many ideas to choose from, but you’ll want to choose something that meets your family’s needs and the level of maintenance you want to give.
Are you looking for a place to relax or entertain guests? Do you have pets or children who need to be taken into account when planning your landscaping?
If you’re looking for a splash of color to make a fence look prettier, the Mandevilla is a beautiful flowering vine with red, pink and white blooms and can be trained anyway you’d like. These plants love sun.
If you’re looking for a pretty filler plant, Coleus has sun and shade varieties that are perfect. This beautiful leaf plant comes in a variety of colors and does well in flower beds and containers.
Don’t forget that pathways and trails in the backyard can break up a large backyard into smaller sections, which can be used for different purposes.
Creating a focal point with a pond, statuary or even just a combination of different colors and sizes of flowers can be a great way to spruce up an area.
Houston Flower Bed Ideas To Wow The Neighbors
There are so many ways you can go with your flower beds, from a tropical look to xeriscaping. Landscaping is a unique way to express your personality and expand your decorating to your outside space.
Raised flower beds are making a comeback and are a great way to add depth to your yard. With the addition of trailing flowers, raised beds can be beautiful additions to your backyard oasis. Some homeowners use raised beds to start a vegetable garden. This technique allows you to incorporate good soil without a lot of digging.
Flower beds can be used as a focal point in your yard. Outlining your flower bed around an object such as a water feature, bench or mature tree can make a beautiful spot in your yard to relax and unwind.
Texas Landscaping Ideas: Small Yards Can Have A Big Impact
You have a small space but you don’t want it to look blah, so what do you do? Look for inspiration around your neighborhood. There are tons of ideas out there to help you create your vision. Figure out what you want to accomplish in your yard. Do you want to entertain in the small space? Do you just want a nice place to sit and relax? Do you want to look at your back windows and see something pretty? How much time do you want to spend maintaining it?
Some popular ideas for small outdoor spaces include:
- Arranging plants in containers to brighten up small yards.
- Fire pits with landscaping to create smaller “areas” in your yard.
- Seating areas to provide you a comfortable space to enjoy the outdoors.
- Creating an immersive experience by filling the space with wildflowers and plants and adding a trail through it.
- A water feature can create a peaceful atmosphere and block road noise.
Improve Your Houston Landscape With ABC’s Help
Between the nutrient-poor soil and extremes in temperatures, you may decide that although you want beautiful landscaping, you don’t have the time, skills or tools to turn your vision into a reality. If this sounds like you, ABC Home & Commercial Services can help. We can help you with anything and everything along the way, from designing a beautiful area which will meet your tastes and needs to executing and maintaining the landscaping. ABC applies the same environmentally-responsible principles to our landscaping projects as we do across the rest of our home and business services. Not only can you count on our background-checked, lawn care experts to make your vision a reality, but you can also take advantage of our competitive pricing. When your project is finished, you will have a beautiful and sustainable landscape that’s custom-designed to your needs and preferences.