Nature is on your side if you’re landscaping a yard in Dallas. The long growing season and the rich soil are friendly to gardeners. It’s just a matter of choosing the landscape elements that best flatter your outdoor space. Here are some of the hot landscaping trends in Dallas.
What you plant in your yard can help cool the Metroplex. The Dallas Urban Forestry Management Program encourages tree planting to counter the urban heat island effect or UHI. The city’s Urban Forest Advisory Committee encourages tree planting for several reasons:
- Large trees provide shade to block the sun’s heat.
- Trees release moisture, which lowers the urban air temperature. Arborists call this “evapotranspiration.”
- Trees need carbon dioxide to survive. Through their “breathing” or photosynthesis process, they remove significant amounts of carbon dioxide and other pollutants.
Some recommended species include the cedar elm, chinkapin oak, and lacebark elm, known for their drought tolerance. They can handle North Texas summers when the temperatures soar into the triple digits. They’re also tough enough to stand up to severe storms.
Avoid Planting Ash Trees
Avoid planting any species of the ash tree. The destructive emerald ash borer has killed millions of ash trees since it was first detected in the United States in 2002. The destructive pest has moved into Tarrant County, making it one of four Texas counties under quarantine for the bug.
Once they infest an ash tree, there’s little hope of saving it. If the emerald ash borer infests a tree within 15 miles of your ash trees, arborists can use what amounts to an IV system to inject a pesticide into your tree. “The adult beetle first feeds on an ash tree’s foliage in order to complete their maturation cycle,” said ArborJet’s Regional Technical Manager, Emmett Muennink. ArborJet is a company that develops plant and tree health solutions. “If EAB feeds on a treated tree, it will kill the adults. At the larval stage, it feeds on the vascular system.” The insecticide “is 99.99 percent effective at controlling both the adult beetles and the larval stage.” It is a preventive that could help slow the destruction of mature ash trees. If you’re replacing an infested ash tree, you are better off choosing a different species.
Pollinator gardens are all the rage right now. We’re talking about gardens made up of plants that will attract butterflies and honeybees. Creating a pollinator garden is more than a hot trend — it’s environmentally friendly. Perhaps the most iconic of pollinators is the monarch butterfly. Hundreds of millions of them pass through DFW on their annual migration. Some flowers you should plant if you want monarchs (or many other butterfly species) to stop in your yard include frostweed, purple coneflowers, horsemint, and Texas lantana. If you want them to breed in your yard, you need to plant milkweed. The monarch caterpillars eat only milkweed leaves.
The honeybee has been struggling in recent decades, and planting a pollinator garden will help sustain bee colonies. You’ll also help preserve native plants. Unlike Africanized honey bees (aka killer bees), the American honey bee is not aggressive and won’t sting unless threatened.” Bees come into your yard because they’re foraging for food,” says Dr. Michael Merchant, an entomologist at Texas A&M University. “Most only sting when they’re defending their hive or feel threatened.”
Low Maintenance and Water-Wise
Going low maintenance and water-wise does not mean getting rid of your lawn. Your lawn is likely a warm-season grass such as St. Augustine or centipede grass that’s drought and heat-tolerant. Once established, it doesn’t need a lot of water to thrive.
You can also create a water-wise yard by grouping plants together by their water needs. Group thirsty plants together, and do the same with drought-tolerant plants like bougainvillea. Native plants that have adapted to the north Texas climate are ideal for a water-saving garden. Consider perennials such as the white rain lily, rosemary, and perennial verbena to create visual interest and thrive without much water. It will help save the plant and your bank account.
Another hot landscape trend that conserves water is hardscaping. A rock border, a tiled patio, or gravel walkway is a great design element, and you don’t have to water the hardscape.
Food for Thought
If you do an online search for the term “foodscaping,” you’ll get tens of thousands of results. It’s an emerging trend in which the flowerbed and vegetable garden become one. Gardeners and horticulturists are finding many popular edible plants, like rainbow chard, kale, and lettuce, are visually appealing and grow well with flowers. Planting these adds food to the table while showing off their good looks in an ornamental flower bed. Rosemary and basil are two more plants that look great in a flower garden. Pepper plants not only love the heat, they produce their own small blossoms that turn into peppers.
You don’t have to pick just one hot trend when you sketch out a plan. You can place edible plants in your pollinator garden. This also allows you to take advantage of the pollinators who come to visit and fertilize your garden vegetables. A stone walkway can lead you from the patio to the flowerbeds, across the warm-season, drought-tolerant St. Augustine grass, saving you water and wear and tear on the grass.
Whether you choose one hot landscaping trend or a little from all of them, it will help define the outdoor space of your home.